Lloydspharmacy's parent company would have liked to have bought the Co-operative's pharmacies, it's managing director has confirmed to C+D.
Celesio UK managing director Cormac Tobin would not confirm whether it had made an offer, but said the multiple "would have liked to have had another network of stores". "I can't say I went for the Co-op but let's say...we didn't get it," Mr Tobin said in an exclusive interview with C+D last week (November 20).
Everybody who missed out on the deal would have been disappointed but his company was not "upset" by Bestway's successful bid because Lloydspharmacy was "moving forward at a very rapid pace", Mr Tobin stressed.
"I'm very happy that our business thinking is [progressing]. Whether we've got 500 more stores or not, it doesn't really matter [for] where we're going to go," he said.
Mr Tobin praised Bestway as a "new competitor" with a "very good track record" from its convenience store and banking businesses. The company's background from outside of the pharmacy sector meant it was more likely to implement change, he said.
Mr Tobin said he believed that Lloydspharmacy's focus on pain management, as well as Celesio UK partnering with independents through a virtual pharmacy network announced in July, was a "very successful one". "We want to impress upon [independents] how good we can be for giving them solutions," he added.
In July, a legal expert warned that successful bids from Alliance Boots or Lloydspharmacy for the Co-operative Pharmacy could have been investigated by the UK's competition regulator to ensure they did not restrict consumer choice.