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Lloydspharmacy to close or sell 190 branches across England

Cormac Tobin: Changes to reimbursement have made operations at many stores unviable
Cormac Tobin: Changes to reimbursement have made operations at many stores unviable

Lloydspharmacy’s parent company Celesio UK has announced it will cease trading in 190 “commercially unviable” branches across England.

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.

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Locum Pharmacist, Locum pharmacist

I just hope they go to independents or smaller groups of pharmacies ran by pharmacists. I imagine the staff, if retained, would be much happier under new management. That is of course if they really are selling off these pharmacies rather than consolidating premises to cut costs.

S J- Locum, Locum pharmacist

Great News. Good riddance Lloyds. Wish there were more than 190/ Absolutely no sympathy for Lloyds, The way they have manipulated and treated most of their staff over the years.  All that goes up ............

Considering the disgusting rate they pay the pharmacists for their professional services I am surprised they are feeling the 'pinch' at all. All the money they saved by these measures and filling their pockets and at the expense of the NHS eg, forcing Pharmacists to perform unnecessary MURs etc with threats!!

I see a lot of businesses doing well NOT at the expense of the NHS. What are Lloyds complaining about/

Draye To, Community pharmacist

*This comment has been deleted for breaching C+D's community principles*

Dax Trader, Finance


The rest of the profession still in jobs, don't just stand there, do something else before you too get made redundant or go mad trying to meet targets!  

This applies to GPs too.  I have seen AI powered apps that could do your jobs for a tiny fraction of your wages, with far greater accuracy too.

Develop a second income stream which will soon become your main source of income and then you can also wave goodbye to the NHS.



Dave Downham, Manager

No doubt there will be a strong response from the BPA to ensure this kind of pressure doesn't have the same outcome in future.

fab fabioso, Locum pharmacist

Just saw this on the Guardian website, and my immediate reaction was shock. My commiserations to all the Lloyds employees affected by this.Must be horrible to have this news especially at this time of year coming up to the festive season. None of you have done anything wrong, just been affected by circumstances way out of your control. 

Honest Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

Quote: Mr Tobin also stressed that the organisation is “here to support anyone affected by these changes”...

Come on now Mr. Tobin, please credit us with at least some intellect. Unfortunately the words "Lloyds" and "support" don't go together in the same sentence, just like they're never together in practice. Support is in the form of a Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) telephone number / website, that Lloyds buy into to sort out their staff, because they are treated terribly.Come on now, think of those ICARE principles and act with integrity, isn't that what Lloyds always say? Shame you don't practice what you preach.

Wouldn't you love it if there was just ONE DAY when all these big companies had to behave like Jim Carrey did in LIAR LIAR. At least we'd hear the truth at last, instead of this corporate drivel that just rolls off their tongues so easily!

Chris Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

Be interesting to see where the closures are, how many staff are absorbed into other branches with transfer of nursing homes, MDS and Rx item business, etc into more viable branches. Also, having just bought 280 Sainsbury's pharmacies perhaps it is no surprise there is some opportunities to merge/relocate operations...

...I think the RIP community pharmacy comments seem a bit knee-jerk....well, with regard to this announcement anyway...

Ilove Pharmacy, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

I thought clinical services was the future!


Jonny Johal, Pharmacy Area manager/ Operations Manager

Sorry to hear about this, my sympathy goes to those who are affected. 

Freelance Chemist, Pre-reg Pharmacist

This is a calculated attempt to try and force the govt to reverse the cuts!

i can bet the copy of boots, that starts with a 'J' will buy the branches up, the owner has a flowery Hx ask anybody from shardend co-op

CAPT FX, Locum pharmacist

Political gamesmanship is futile when you are in business. If people have beef with the department of health over cuts, continue to negotiate in good faith through the established channels. This is what Lloydspharmacy tells us on the occassions they fed us to the fitness to practice monster. 

They have always been the first to complain about cuts ad nauseum and for years. Yet they never looked at their own business model that is over reliant on the Pharmacy Contract. Do they have creativity and innovation on sales outside the dispensary? No. We see half baked attempts which over the years contribute nothing to the stability needed to navigate during difficult times. The Idea of buying 281 branches for £125m and then closing almost 200 shows complete lack of objective planning.Of these 281 new branches a very significant proportion were poorly performing branches.  Details on cuts for different Govt departments are public information and any CEO worth his clout would have checked them out and started planning from the day George Osbourne made his first five year debt reduction plan. Not much of that plan has changed significantly and everyone knew Pharmacy would not be exempt from cuts.

What is dissappointing is the fact that people actually listen when Companies like this talk and people will equally panic when these companies panic. Yet its not necessary, theirs are not measured, planned or projected actions. They are knee jerk reactions which we see on the shop floor every day. A good start would be to prune the company of all non-professional dead wood and appoint professional Managers with Management qualifications and people who will add value to this profession. Experience from WHSMITH or CARPHONE WHAREHOUSE will not add value to our profession. Use the young talented Pharmacists coming out of University and groom them for proper Pharmacy Management to avoid this catastrophy befalling this behemoth

Brian Perry, Locum pharmacist

Desperately sorry for all involved but in all honesty the funeral tocsin for community pharmacy has been ringing louder and louder for at least two decades.

Meera Sharma, Community pharmacist

Something doesn't add up - they buy 281 Sainsbury's branches in 2015, completed in Sept 2016 and by the following Sept 2017, they are selling off almost 200 branches. Sounds more like a venture capitalist move, acquire, strip off assets and move on. They are a large company and someone telling me that their finance guys didn't see this coming last year when they completed this deal??

My sympathies are with the frontline pharmacists & staff - I hope its a decent pay-out or roles in other branches/other pharmacies.

Chris Locum, Locum pharmacist

If you don't make decent business decisions I am not sure 'decent' payouts will occur...

Gerry Diamond, Primary care pharmacist

Sorry to hear about these Lloydspharmacy closures and my sympathy goes to those who may be redundant. Looks as though the charity pharmacysupport will be even busier soon. Good luck all xx

Chemical Mistry, Information Technology

Copy and paste the link This is where the sympathy should lie watch and learn Hello in=18:59:21.Especially the regulator comments 



L H, Community pharmacist

Thanks for highlighting this.  A very thoughtful and informed discussion from Mr Kevan Jones MP. 

As a paying subscriber of C&D, an independent contractor, I would like to request a dedicated article about this case please, preferably the first of an occasional (monthly?) article of some length. 

Ghengis Pharm, Locum pharmacist

Very moving, and all community pharmacists should view it.  Not sure it's relevant to the C&D article about Lloyds though.

Chemical Mistry, Information Technology

Every action has a consequences 

Sachin Badiani, Pharmacy owner/ Proprietor

Thank you. I've read about the pharmacist here and the pharmacy chain in question. I'll watch the whole video later when back home.

Amal England, Public Relations

What Cormac really means:       "respond to the dramatic reimbursement cuts" = respond to the purchase of the Sainsburys Pharmacies.                                                                                                  

“Although this is a difficult day for some of our colleagues" = this is a good day for Celesio and my pay packet. lol!

"build our reputation as a trusted partner of the NHS,” = build our reputation as a devourer of NHS funds.

“Although this is a difficult day for some of our colleagues," = ha ha ha :-). 

“not been taken lightly”, but was “necessary” for the business “to adapt to the changing landscape”. = the decision was taken with glee, conviction, enthusiam and was very necessary to ensure my pay packet is unharmed in this new landscape which we multiples ring to rule them all!

“look to redeploy colleagues wherever possible”, but “where we are unable to find a solution, unfortunately colleagues may be in a redundancy situation”. = servents, you are on your own.....scrounge for the scraps and if there are no scraps effoff.....who do you think I am ....a charity....NO, I am your worst nightmare!

Barry Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

The article says .... “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. So that says to me they won't close the pharmacies they will look to sell them and then let the new owner decide. It may be that Lloyds sell to another chain and they "consolidate". We have 11,500 pharmacies and without doubt we will not have the same number in 2 years time but don't make this out to be something it isn't. All this does is add uncertainty to staff's lives in the run up to Christmas. It's not decent and it's not fair. 

Stephen Griffiths, Community pharmacist

You could be right, Under corporate dogma a branch does not just have to make a profit, it has to make X amount profit. If it fails to meet this target, it is liable to be closed - or at least the business sold, and the money men look elsewhere for a bigger return on their capital. 


Rubicon Mango, Academic pharmacist

Feel sorry for the staff. Especially in a time like this. Whilst the executives and head office staff can clap themselves and high five each other, front line staff who you know, actually make the money are being shafted. Please hold some sentiment for those who have mortgages to pay. I hope the public will percieve this and look to take their business elsewhere. 

This of course is a sign of the times and purposely engineered to cause the market to shift this way. When situations like this arise, it always front line staff that pay the price and professionalism goes out of the window, patient safety can also be compromised. 

Let this be a stark reminder to anyone reading that whilst we all have a duty of care to patients, the biggest patient to take care of is yourself. Don't let your employer, the gphc, the nhs take that away from you, it is the most important patient and one that they forget the most.

Female Tech, Pharmacy technician

"Please hold some sentiment for those who have mortgages to pay. I hope the public will percieve this and look to take their business elsewhere."

If the public take their business elsewhere, there will be a lot more people who will struggle to pay their mortgages. Boycotting firms only ever affects the hoi polloi.

M P, Community pharmacist

Not necessarily, an effective boycott hurts these companies finances - money talks! If public demand frontline staff be treated fairly and will take thier business elsewhere if thats not the case- then for the love of profit they will think twice about how they treat their staff. 

Chemical Mistry, Information Technology

What can not all these the new services format talks about help to keep these pharmacies open, I thought that was the future!

Mark Boland, Pharmaceutical Adviser

We have been moving towards this point since the new contract was imposed. After reading that contract for the first time, it was obvious (to anybody with a brain) that it was game over for the sector. The 'clinical visionaries' (known as the useful idiots to those who saw this coming) have been very quiet of late, in fact most appear to have jumped ship to other places within the bureaucracy.

They leave a decimated sector and potential mass redundancy. Pharmacists ought to have realised this, as should pharmacy students. So I feel most sorry for the dispensary/shop staff, for whom many decades of hard work will count for little and who cannot reasonably be expected to have known the likelihood of such an outcome.


Chris Locum, Locum pharmacist

I agree. I have worked with some tremendous support staff. These efforts now come to nought. A reality check for the sector now. Cut out overlapping branches and those that do not stand up to individual finances. Contractors signed a blank piece of paper minus details at the time. Others saw the end game for independents on the horizon.


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