The Co-operative Group will sell its pharmacies to a UK-based food wholesaler group for £620 million, it announced today.
The 771 Co-operative pharmacies are due to transfer to the Bestway Group in October.
Bestway comprises the UK's second largest independent food wholesaler, a real estate portfolio and Pakistan-based cement manufacturer and private bank. The group donates 2.5 per cent of its profits to social projects through the Bestway foundation.
Co-operative Group interim chief executive Richard Pennycook said Bestway was an ideal owner for the pharmacy chain because it was a "strong family business" with a "proven track record of putting the needs of customers first".
"I am pleased that the agreement we have reached with Bestway reflects the quality of the business and the high level of interest from a number of bidders," he said. Bidders have previously been reported to include Alliance Boots and Lloydspharmacy parent company Celesio.
Bestway chief executive Zameer Choudrey said the group saw "great potential to grow [the pharmacy] business organically and through future acquisitions".
With the addition of the Co-operative pharmacies, Bestway will have an annual turnover of approximately £3.4 billion and a global workforce of more than 32,600 people, with more than 11,900 people in the UK.
Bestway can operate under the Co-operative Pharmacy brand for a year after the acquisition and the Co-operative Group will provide certain services to the pharmacy business for up to 18 months under a transitional services agreement.