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Lloydspharmacy CEO: Definitely more closures across the sector to come

Toby Anderson: The government has made it clear it thinks there are too many pharmacies
Toby Anderson: The government has made it clear it thinks there are too many pharmacies

There will “definitely” be more closures across the sector, Lloydspharmacy’s CEO has told C+D, but he could not confirm if this would include more of the multiple’s branches.

The government has been “very clear” that it believes there are too many pharmacies in England, Toby Anderson, CEO of Lloydspharmacy’s parent company McKesson UK told C+D in an exclusive interview on Tuesday (August 20).

And its commitment to five years of flat funding, without taking inflation into consideration, “supports this hypothesis”, he added. “So I think there will be a number of pharmacy closures” across the sector in the coming years.

When asked by C+D whether this means more Lloydspharmacies will close, Mr Anderson said the multiple “constantly evaluates its estate” and aims to ensure that both employees and customers get a “great experience”.

There will be “some locations” where McKesson UK will not be able to “get that kind of balance right”, he added.

On the contrary, “there will be other places where we want to open or maybe we’ll buy some pharmacies”, Mr Anderson said.

Last year, a C+D investigation revealed that Lloydspharmacy had closed 78 branches since its announcement in 2017 that it would stop trading in around 190 “commercially unviable” locations.

Lobbying the government

Last week, Mr Anderson called on the government to treat pharmacies the same as GPs by reimbursing their business rates.

Speaking to C+D on Tuesday, he said the multiple “will be lobbying quite hard” to influence the government on the growing financial pressures on community pharmacy.

While the whole retail industry is under pressure from rising business rates and an increase in the minimum wage, pharmacy faces additional challenges, such as the flat funding deal, and the cost of the Falsified Medicines Directive (FMD), he stressed.

Despite this, “Lloydspharmacy is a great brand and we have a lot of great employees, so we are well positioned to face the challenges and opportunities”, Mr Anderson said.

Have any pharmacies closed in your area recently?

Hanbal Chaudry, Community pharmacist

No case for business rate cut for huge vertically integrated multiples. Independents are at a huge disadvantage. That reminds me no AAH delivery today except an email that I have exceeded my credit limit. I always thought wholesalers wanted us to spend more. Oh well, will have a few terse words with them after the bank holiday. 

Hanbal Chaudry, Community pharmacist

Will reduce my spend with AAH to less that a tenth. The rep will be at my door pronto

N O, Pharmaceutical Adviser

Are you doing AAH a favour by ordering through them? Or is it one of the following

1. Some products are available only through AAH.

2. You get better discount with AAH than other wholesalers.

If it is none of the above then you are doing them a big favour and the Rep should start running towards your shop. If  you expect wholesalers to supply you promptly, you better keep you accounts up to date or else you will run out of suppliers hence a forced closure of the business. It is not our market anymore. Just saying.

Hanbal Chaudry, Community pharmacist

True some products are only available through AAH (Aerochambers and Pentasa from the top of my head) but if you have accounts with all three Big ones there is still choice. Discounts and service don’t matter. Virtually same across the board (abysmal). 

N O, Pharmaceutical Adviser

My friend, whatever wholesale options you have, the situation is same with all. They exploit your weekness. If you cannot pay them in time and if they don't see your business contributing a lot compared to the credit they can offer, then they just put you on hold.

Even if you have a small business but pay on time without failure, then they will come running behind you.

Unfortunately, they are not saints and don't expect them to be. Show your capacity in terms of Money Power (however small but prompt) then they will oblige all your needs.

Hanbal Chaudry, Community pharmacist

My Friend, they have always been paid on time by direct debit. The turnover has increased and I wasn’t aware that AAH had an arbitrary ceiling on spend. What got my goat was the reps are always coming around trying you to spend more with their companies. 

N O, Pharmaceutical Adviser

Ok. Listen, this is unusual in my personal experience. I have only heard of such things happening with either the pharmacies opting to pay at the end of month once the statement is given or mostly with 100hr pharmacies. I presume from your post that your are none of these 2. In that case there is no way they can put you on hold as long as you have had your rep or the Head Office to make sure your account is open and not to be put on hold without being contacted.

Ranjeev Patel, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

So he's actually on the ball, and understands what is going on in the UK community pharmacy world. Towns with 12-15 pharmacies will soon be getting by with half that number as the bulk of the dispensary work is shifted to a warehouse and delivery model as in the US. Huge savings for everyone. Bad news for pharmacists and pharmacy staff. And by the way, Lloyds pharmacy is not a "great brand" read some online reviews please.

Boom Shakalaka, Locum pharmacist

Correct Lloydspharmacy is not a great brand.
In my experience they are less than mediocre at best with unprofessionalism prevalent from top to bottom.

Leon The Apothecary, Student

Anyone enjoy using Compass? 

S J- Locum, Locum pharmacist

Better than Rowlands and supermarkets. Rowlands have the worst senior managers in most areas especially Oxfordshire. They are cluttered, short staffed and some are filthy. Get rid. Senior management is useless and arrogant. Unsupportive of managers and pharmacists, untrustworthy and and gullible. Pharmacists are not often respected by staff so there is no motivation. Good pharmacists don't stay for long as it is a downhill battle. 

 Complaints fall on deaf ears, and there will be a vendetta against anyone who speaks up.

Reducing the number of pharmacies and replacing them with well trained, experienced, empathetic and truly mature professionals will make a lot of difference. Bad management ultimately destroys a business. All pharmacists should become locums and do your professional duties and go home. Being employed will make you ill, Think of yourself 

Ranjeev Patel, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

The problem is that community pharmacy is on a financial knife-edge, it will take the best possible managers to survive. Unfortunately, most of the big chains went for "cheap" instead of "quality" which is why we see things as they are now. The worst I have ever seen is a cluster manager for LP  - clueless would be the nicest word to use. 

S J- Locum, Locum pharmacist

Absolutely on the spot. And they abuse their power. You are fighting a losing battle and it is irrelevant how thorough and professional you are. Head office is behind them 100% adding to the company's downfall. Excellent pharmacists and locums have been driven away and we as staff had no voice or choice

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