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Lloydspharmacy made 'commercial decision', stresses minister

Kevin Barron MP had hoped minister Steve Brine would look into the Lloydspharmacy closures
Kevin Barron MP had hoped minister Steve Brine would look into the Lloydspharmacy closures

The chair of the all-party pharmacy group (APPG) is “disappointed” with the government’s response to news of Lloydspharmacy shedding 190 branches, in a parliamentary meeting yesterday.

Lloydspharmacy parent company Celesio UK announced last week (October 26) it will cease trading in 190 “commercially unviable” branches across England, “through a combination of store closures and divestments”.

During an APPG session in parliament yesterday (October 30), Labour MP and group chair Kevin Barron said it was “deeply worried” by the multiple’s announcement.

In response, pharmacy minister Steve Brine stressed that Lloydspharmacy is a “commercial, private company”, which had made a “commercial decision”.

Mr Barron then pressed Mr Brine on why the government had touted its Pharmacy Access Scheme to protect rural pharmacies, and yet now faces “a situation where potentially you’re losing 190 [pharmacies] without any sort of: where is this going to happen?”.

The minister replied that Lloydspharmacy “hasn’t actually said where the closures are”, and pointed out the multiple is “looking closely” at these locations.

“The first I’d heard of it was when they decided to give me a one-hour heads-up on Thursday morning. They hadn’t talked to me before they made the announcement,” Mr Brine told the APPG.

But he added “the door is always open” when it comes to future communication with the multiple.

DH “monitoring” pharmacy closures

Department of Health (DH) head of pharmacy Jeannette Howe told the APPG the government is “monitoring what’s happening in the market”.

“We know the number of openings and closings, and we’ll keep a close look on that when it becomes clearer exactly what’s happening in respect of Lloydspharmacy.”

Speaking to C+D after the session, Mr Barron said it was “disappointing” the DH representatives had said “nothing about: ‘If Lloyds closes 190 [branches], we’re going to look into it’”.

“They didn’t say that,” he added. “All they [said] is it’s a commercial decision.”

“It seems to me like Lloyds caught them out.”

Mr Barron stressed this was “not the end of the debate”, and the APPG will continue to look into pharmacy closures “quite clearly”.

What do you make of the DH's comments?

Stephen Eggleston, Community pharmacist

For the Minister to say Lloyds took a commercial decision is one of the weasley-ist politico-speak I've heard in ages - as in "I know we cut the funding but don't blame us because Lloyds decided they could no longer sustain the losses". The only saving grace is that the Minister is, to quote Mr Robin Day "a here today, gone tomorrow politician"

Sue Per, Locum pharmacist

if the pharmacies are priced realistically, there will always be buyers, given the pent up desire to own a pharmacy.. There will be no nett loss of numbers, and  only change of  ownerships, hopefully independents. marking the end to the rampant expansion by the multiples. This is most welcome.

Chandra Nathwani, Community pharmacist

Business relies on ROCE (return on capital employed).

If ROCE is negative, its the end for that business even if goodwill was nil!



Sue Per, Locum pharmacist

ROCE can be maipulated,-Raise fixed and floating overheads, and it goes down and vice versa.There are several ways this can be achieved, with capital contributions and kickbacks from Landlords, to inflate rents above the prevailing levels. Then amortise these over the length of the lease, and when it runs out, declare tough conditions, plead poverty, and tap the shareholders for a bail out AKA, rights issues, and/or if there are no shareholders, ask the government to bail out, with the threat of causing mass unemployment!!! The latter which is unpalatable to any governmet in power.

Welcome to the games of the corporate investors such as K******R, etc, who have high shareholdings in companies such as **ots & ***oyds


Chandra Nathwani, Community pharmacist

I thought we were talking about "independents" and not the regular corporate which has ways and means of "smoothing" out P&L and ROCE. The average one man independent (who you suggest, could buy pharmacies if goodwill values where lower) has very little ability to massage figures. In the end the bills have to be paid no matter what you show in your P&L's and it is that ability to meet your obligations that will allow a business to flourish. And if the independent goes bust, no one will bail him out! We are pretty close to that position.


Chandra Nathwani, Community pharmacist

Does it mean that once 3000 pharmacy closures have been reached we can see improvement in funding?

Can't wait!



Stephen Walsh, Community pharmacist

I am at a loss for words that don't involve copious amounts of swearing. 


Andrew Morrison, Superintendent Pharmacist

Of course it's a commercial decision - You can't run a Pharmacy at a loss for any length of time no matter how much you do your best for patients. Ultimately they will suffer due to the current financial cuts and the surgeries will become clogged up by even more patients who could have been treated by Pharmacies. Nice logic, government!

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