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Bestway: We'll buy more pharmacies after Co-op

The business will focus on dispensing, says chief executive Zameer Choudrey 

The UK-based food wholesaler group took formal control of the Co-operative Pharmacy’s 771 branches on Monday and chief executive Zameer Choudrey told C+D it “hoped to add more pharmacies to the chain”


Bestway has confirmed plans to expand its pharmacy portfolio following its acquisition of the Co-operative Pharmacy.

The UK-based food wholesaler group took formal control of the Co-operative Pharmacy's 771 branches on Monday and Bestway chief executive Zameer Choudrey said it "hoped to add more pharmacies to the chain" if funding could be secured.

The group's "first priority" would be prescriptions, which would be the focus of 80 per cent of the business, Mr Choudrey said. The remainder would be dedicated to improving patients' wellbeing, he told C+D in an exclusive interview yesterday (October 7).  

"The dispensing of medicine is the most important element of our business. That will take the greatest amount of time, attention and focus, so we will build on it and expand it," he said.

Bestway, which bought the Co-operative pharmacies for £620 million in July, did not have "anything definite in mind" in terms of implementing new technologies in the branches, Mr Choudrey said. However, it would "gladly" introduce automated processes if it could help grow the dispensing side of the business, he added.

Co-operative Pharmacy managing director John Nuttall, who confirmed that he had retained his role following the sale to Bestway, agreed that the group intended to "invest and grow" the business. Bestway was also planning to expand the Co-operative Pharmacy's management team – which will remain in Manchester – while "looking at our portfolio from time to time", he told C+D.

The Co-operative Pharmacy's headquarters are currently located with the Co-operative Group at One Angel Square, Manchester, and Bestway said it had identified a number of possible sites in the city for the pharmacy business to move to.

Bestway, which is the UK's second largest independent wholesale and cash-and-carry operator, was a "good match" for the Co-operative pharmacies because it was "entrepreneurial" and wanted to grow the business while securing jobs, Mr Nuttall added.

With the addition of the Co-operative pharmacies, Bestway will have an annual turnover of approximately £3.6 billion and a global workforce of more than 33,000 people, including more than 11,900 in the UK.  

How will Bestway's growth affect the sector?

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Aisha Adnan, Community pharmacist

I'm sure if they have ventured into buying this big chain, they have thought about it. You can't just spend 620 million pounds like that..

Michael Orchel, Pharmacist

If they didnt buy something, they would have had to pay more tax.

Miracure Pharmacist, Work for a health/commissioning consultancy company

more jobs

A.S. Singh, Community pharmacist

I suspect that Mr Choudreys only experience of retail pharmacy is when he picks up his BP medication. Someone please tell this chap that pharmacy is not normal retail and medicines are not normal items of commerce

Baber Yaqub, Pharmacy

Yet again, comments on Bestway.
Well C and D, you clearly do not have a busy editorial timetable, hence the regurgitation of previous articles mentioning Bestway's purchase of the Co-operative Pharmacies.

You must think we are stupid with an article like this....
Well, allow me to rest your minds. Bestway will assist in highlighting the good, bad and ugly issues of Pharmacy that is inextricably linked to the NHS, as its paymaster.

Let them get on with conquering the Pharmacy terrain. Their time has come. There will come a time when they can leverage their clout in payment negotiations.

Good luck Sir Anwar and Zameer Sahib,

[email protected], Pre-reg graduate

""conquering the Pharmacy terrain. Their time has come"" & ""boycotts TEVA""

These words sound more similar to those used by people in a war situation. Is this topic now leading somewhere?

Baber Yaqub, Pharmacy

It is intriguing to note your interpretation of my comments as a " war situation." This is further from the truth as to my sentiments of Bestway's acquisition.

There always be someone, like you who embraces war and and its disgust. I trust you will mature with time, for society's sake.

N O, Pharmaceutical Adviser

Why have a go at the you person??

Look at your post again and you would find that, in an attempt the bosses you almost claimed that Bestway is the only company that is going to control the entire Pharmacy business in UK (the word conquering leads to this)

You also seem to think the NHS is doing all BAD things and only Bestway are going to expose them? Have you been high on some stuff? Bestway is just another business house, who had a chance to grab to a lucrative offer. No more no less. They have no power whatsoever in changing our future, leave alone the future of the ex-coop employees. What makes you even think they will be even taken seriously when we already have Boots and Lloyds with foreign investments.

Anyway, not your fault its just that you wanted to show your loyalty some people this way, without realising that your comments can be linked to a past HOT topic discussed in the same magazine which had to be abruptly removed.

Baber Yaqub, Pharmacy

Keep Calm and Carry on Dispensing!

Loyalty is word uncommon to you.

We will all be watching Bestway.

As for the last comments that gave you hemorrhoids, soothe them with Anusol.

N O, Pharmaceutical Adviser


you person -- YOUNG PERSON

attempt the bosses -- ATTEMPT TO PLEASE THE BOSSES

Sami Khaderia, Non healthcare professional

I hope bestway boycotts TEVA

Anton Sobala, Locum pharmacist

Nah. I seriously doubt any major pharmacy group would boycott TEVA, unless they were totally stupid. As the largest generics manufacturer, and one which will no doubt be selling direct to Bestway's/Co-Op's warehouse, it would hardly be sensible to boycott them. I expect TEVA will be keen to provide many price offers and contracts in order to secure business with Bestway. Selling generics to Bestway/Co-op will also be very convenient for TEVA because all stock is simply delivered in bulk to the NDC.

Unlike a lot of manufacturers, TEVA have continued to offer a very wide generics portfolio, not just of the most profitable products, but most products. They have been keen to maintain their status as the no.1 supplier of generics to the NHS.

So, remind us, why would Bestway want to risk boycotting TEVA when it would put their newly acquired business at risk?

Daniel Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

Shame we can't all boycott you

Clive Hodgson, Community pharmacist

Comment from Mr Coudrey, CE of Bestway:

“The group's "first priority" would be prescriptions, which would be the focus of 80 per cent of the business”.

"The dispensing of medicine is the most important element of our business. That will take the greatest amount of time, attention and focus, so we will build on it and expand it,"

Only time will tell how thing work out for Bestway.
However these comments do show a very reassuring and sensible outlook/philosophy.

It would have been worrying (especially for Co-Op Pharmacists) if Bestway had decided on a headlong pursuit of the crock of gold at the end of the “services” rainbow.

N O, Pharmaceutical Adviser

Well at least he has made clear one thing -- "BUSINESS = MONEY" i.e they will be chasing for prescriptions.

Hope they will not get in to the habit of providing free services like the other Big Boys. If they can acheive a "free service" free environment, then we have someone with a voice next time we sit on negotiation table.

About buying more Pharmacies, not sure how different it will be compared to other multiples. I mean same rules will apply to Bestway in terms of competition commission as to other multiples, so effectively they will be doing the same as other multiples. My advice -- get this business running first then think of extension, even if the MD is the same person from Co-Op (I doubt he would stay longer than the 12 month cooling off period)

London Locum, Locum pharmacist

Why else did you think BESTWAY would be interested?

Clive Hodgson, Community pharmacist

Apologies....should be Mr Choudrey.

Sami Khaderia, Non healthcare professional

Dont tell that to N O

He wont be happy

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