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Alliance Boots bids for Co-operative Pharmacy

The health and beauty giant – which bought two Latin American companies earlier this month – has made an undisclosed bid for the Co-operative Group's pharmacy business

Alliance Boots has put in an offer to buy the Co-operative Pharmacy, C+D has learned.

The health and beauty giant made a bid for the Co-operative Group's pharmacy business last week, a well-placed source confirmed to C+D yesterday (May 19). However, it is unclear whether the offer is for all of the 782 branches.

The Co-operative Group had received "numerous expressions of interest" for its pharmacy business and expected a sale by the end of the year, a spokesperson said last week.

Alliance Boots' offer follows its decision to buy two Latin American pharmacy companies worth more than £800 million earlier this month. It also purchased a small pharmacy chain in Nottingham in April.

Alliance Boots has recently bought two Latin American pharmacy companies and a small chain in Nottingham

More on the Co-operative Pharmacy sale

Pharmacy ‘not part' of Co-operative's future strategy

In mourning for the co-operative approach

Pharmacist consortium raises £40m to buy Co-operative Pharmacy

Last week, Alliance Boots revealed that its trading profits growth had ground to a halt in 2013-14, blaming "challenging markets" for a 0.4 per cent rise to £1.27bn. Although Boots UK's health and beauty division posted 2.1 per cent growth, its dispensing levels remained at 2012-13 levels.

In March, a business expert told C+D that Alliance Boots was unlikely to bid for the Co-operative Pharmacy because it already owned a pharmacy network of a "desirable size" and had other priorities.

Pharmacists have pledged more than £53 million to buy the Co-operative Pharmacy as part of the Co-op Consortium, which is unrelated to the Co-operative Group. The consortium would start negotiations to buy the pharmacies once it had secured £60m in pledges, it told C+D last month.

What is your forecast for the future of the Co-operative Pharmacy?
We want to hear your views, but please express them in the spirit of a constructive, professional debate. For more information about what this means, please click here to see our community principles and information

Stephen Riley, Community pharmacist

This bid further highlights the need for the support of the PDA as formally recognised union.

A recognition agreement protected by statute will provide for effective representation. Boots would be obliged to pay more than lip service. We believe that this will strongly support the aim of balancing more the objective of profit making with that of patient safety as delivered through the greater professional autonomy of pharmacists. It will also help to foster a better corporate culture in which to raise patient safety concerns in keeping with the recommendations of the Francis report.

The current state of play is that the judge presiding over the Judicial Review instigated by Boots has extended a hand and invited the PDAU to ask the High Court to declare the current UK law incompatible with European Human Rights legislation and this will place the issue into the hands of parliament.

Formal recognition of the PDA with Boots will not just benefit current Boots' employees. This current bid by Boots, alongside recently buying a small chain shows their expansion efforts. Now is the time we need a formal union recognition with Boots, as Walgreens,(which has an option to take full control of Boots in 2015), has given its American employee's reasons why they should not join a Union. Boots have written to all its pharmacists expressing some similar views. We need to get recognition now to ensure current pharmacists and those of companies they may buy are supported.

It is also strategically important for members working in other organisations. As Boots tends to set the lead, which other organisations to follow.

The full PDA article with more information is at:

Pharmacist Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

Go away Boots, you're not wanted!!! Please Please competition commission do not allow this!!

Chris ., Community pharmacist

There is no way Boots will buy these, it will be a private US investor.

Ian Kemp, Community pharmacist

Hope C & D get a new ' business expert'. Of course Boots were going to put in a bid, it's a once in a lifetime opportunity to pick up some quality pharmacies, yes they will certainly have to sell some stores but I'd have though Mesit and Co would be in favour as that's the only way independents will get even a sniff at any of these pharmacies.

Chances are Boots bid might be too complicated for the nice quick sale the Co-op wants but perhaps the Pharmacy Consortium should actually link up with Boots to mop up the stores they'll have to dispose of. Celesio will no doubt have bid as well and they might not have to let any contracts go but Mesit is probably OK with that as at least it won't be Boots.

Disillusioned Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

Please god no..........

Farm Assistant, Community pharmacist

Our politicians are easily bribed. Minimum wage......... here we come.

S Morein, Pharmacy Area manager/ Operations Manager

Sounds to me like this is the Co ops attempt to drive up the price of the sale or an attempt by Boots to drive the price up to make any future purchaser struggle with servicing the debt.

If there was any real possibility of Boots purchasing even some of the branches there would be a non disclosure agreement in place. So a release of any information, by any source simply would not occur.

Chris Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

An interesting read and seemingly now also relevant to poor Co-operative staff:

Profits up 2% to £840m but seemingly not enough to reward their staff with their usual bonus which lets face it was the only reason to consider working for Boots (over other multiples). Suprised not to hear anything about this on C+D, is it true?

Samuel Horti, Non healthcare professional

Dear Chris,

See our story posted yesterday: Boots staff to get ‘goodwill’ payment instead of bonus

London Locum, Locum pharmacist

How generous. All those struck off ex-Boots Pharmacists will be doubly dissappointed

London Locum, Locum pharmacist

Wait for Gerry Diamond to explain that £840m is not much money and things are really tough at the top for Boots?

London Locum, Locum pharmacist

Boots getting Co-Op won't be good for anyone. They'll further their efforts to crush independents and obviously employees/locums may as well stick their heads in a vice. Patients and customers will require translators to understand the non-english speaking Pharmacists on $5 per hour.

Khaled Miah, Other healthcare profession


Morven - Jayne .s. Kirk,

God help us all - I feel for the existing staff in these co-operative branches if the buy out goes ahead

Khaled Miah, Other healthcare profession

Allow more Eastern European Pharmacists in who will work for less.

Get rid of more UK born Pharmacists who charge £.

The 'Profession' survives in this economic climate....

I may be wrong, just a theory

Gerry Diamond, Primary care pharmacist

Interesting development. as I said before a case of watch and wait...:-)

thepharmacist Forever!, Pharmacist Director

If Boots are allowed to purchase, will this increase the amount of work for the statutory committee?

Miracure Pharmacist, Work for a health/commissioning consultancy company

lololol..... this has made my day !
boots controls the world .......... money power !

Khaled Miah, Other healthcare profession

Time to get out of practising pharmacy and apply for jobs as a FTP inspector! At least your licence is guaranteed to last forever.

I can also see PDA smiling- they shall be getting more work heading towards their way.

Miracure Pharmacist, Work for a health/commissioning consultancy company

so true - i just worked as a locum for boots and they tried to say i was mad, so i was not fit for work. happened in bham and my boss was a mental health practitioner .............. i will sell my story for a million dollars
the whole experience was vile .......... this guy lectures students watch out folks !
i had to get a barrister involved ......... but how do you prove someone is making you go mad !

How sad....being swallowed up by "that" company. I feel sorry for all the staff if this does happen. Really hope it doesn't but business is business i suppose. It's certainly not about the patient or customer anymore.

Er Ds, Superintendent

mesit why dont u buy so at least u can be a contractor


MAYBE your mummy and daddy can buy one?

I already own a pharmacy.

London Locum, Locum pharmacist

Interesting you mention that Mesit. Wonder how many of the if contractors had their pharmacy bought for them by mummy and daddy?

P M, Community pharmacist

you do make me laugh lazy locum....


London locum

continue to save hard and buy a pharmacy...Its better than being a locum - having been both a locum and contractor, there is plenty of money to be made as a contractor - don't be fooled into thinking its not by ppl like P M AND Er Ds :)))

London Locum, Locum pharmacist

Yes, I've always found it puzzling as to why contractors always pretend they don't make any money and I'm going back 10-15 years

Dave Downham, Manager

Can't see any PE houses up for a big investment in pharmacy in the current climate - just not sexy enough for them.

It'll be like a carcass in the desert - the biggest vultures will pick and choose the tastiest morsels, leaving the bones and gristle for the rest.

P M, Community pharmacist

messit can't buy it ... it would take to much effort, time and hard earned money, much easier to moan and complain in a back seat looking at everyone else with envy...

Er Ds, Superintendent

lol agree. better that mesit moans about how contractors hate locums and how the market should be free for all etc etc


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