In a statement published this afternoon (October 26), Celesio UK managing director Cormac Tobin said the organisation has made the decision due to “changes to government policy on reimbursement and retrospective clawbacks over the past two years”.
“We must respond to the dramatic reimbursement cuts over the past 24 months,” Mr Tobin said.
“Although this is a difficult day for some of our colleagues, this also presents an opportunity for us to set ourselves up for the future and build our reputation as a trusted partner of the NHS,” he added.
In a message circulated to Lloydspharmacy employees, Mr Tobin said the decision had “not been taken lightly”, but was “necessary” for the business “to adapt to the changing landscape”.
The "approximate" 190 branches will “cease trading” “through a combination of store closures and divestments”, Mr Tobin explained.
Which pharmacies will be affected?
Celesio UK told C+D that it is “engaged in an active process to try and find alternative options” for the 190 stores, “which includes divestment”.
“It’s too early to give any further details” of the branches, how many staff will be affected, or the possible timescales for closures, it said.
“We will be looking for potential buyers for the affected pharmacies. It is for whoever acquires the pharmacies to make decisions about their future,” Celesio UK added.
The organisation will “look to redeploy colleagues wherever possible”, but “where we are unable to find a solution, unfortunately colleagues may be in a redundancy situation”.
Mr Tobin also stressed that the organisation is “here to support anyone affected by these changes”.
Lloydspharmacy currently operates "around 1,500" branches across the UK, according to its website. Parent company Celesio UK bought all 281 of Sainsbury’s pharmacies for £125 million in 2015, with the handover completed in September 2016.
The Twitter reaction
Good luck to all the Lloydspharmacy Area Managers that find out today who's still got a job - we're thinking of you!— Xrayser (@Xrayser) October 26, 2017
But any pharmacist who didn't think this was on the cards was delusional surely? Times of change, make opportunities of them.— Darren (@PharmacistDaz) October 26, 2017
Opportunity for a lot of pharmacists who wish to buy their own. We need a vibrant indipendent sector.— Tohidul Islam (@PharmacistsCoop) October 26, 2017
A sad day for many - both staff and patients, but an inevitable consequence of the government cutting pay by over 20%. More will follow.— Martin (@wickerpharm) October 26, 2017
Have you completed the Salary Survey 2017?
From salaries to locum rates, workplace pressures to relationships with GPs, the C+D Salary Survey has been painting the most accurate picture of community pharmacy for 10 years.
For 2017, the Salary Survey will help us – and you – to see what impact the funding cuts are really having in pharmacies across England, and how this compares with the rest of the UK.
Please take the time to anonymously complete the survey today, and help C+D to tell YOUR story.
You can access the survey here.