Rowlands announced yesterday (February 21) that it has put 70 of its pharmacies on the market – 69 in England and one in Wales – to focus on a “slightly smaller pharmacy network”.
The multiple’s managing director Kenny Black told C+D exclusively that it has “no intentions of closing down any of these pharmacies”.
“We intend to sell every pharmacy that has been identified and are aware that this may take some time,” Mr Black said.
All 522 staff “have been informed and we will keep them updated on a regular process”.
“We will support them through this process and where possible, look to transfer them to another Rowlands branch on completion of the sale or TUPE them across to the new buyer,” Mr Black said.
As Rowlands only announced the 70 pharmacies yesterday, it is not yet aware of any offers, he told C+D.
No plans to close
Explaining the decision to put these branches up for sale, Mr Black said: “Community pharmacy in England has faced an unprecedented financial squeeze over the last year, which will continue in 2019.
“At the same time, prescription volumes have increased and the NHS wants us to provide more patient services, while making our dispensing processes more cost-efficient,” he added. “It is therefore clear to us that going forward we need to invest more in fewer branches.”
The 70 pharmacies were selected for sale “on a matrix of parameters”, including “geographical location”, “evolution index of the area the pharmacy is located” in and the “nature of the lease tenures we have for the premises”, Mr Black explained.
PSNC: A symptom of a difficult financial situation
Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) chief executive Simon Dukes said Rowlands’ “decision to reduce the size of its pharmacy network…may be a symptom of the very difficult financial situation that so many community pharmacies currently find themselves in”.
“In this environment, our advice to anybody considering purchasing a new pharmacy is to seek specialist professional financial advice first,” Mr Dukes added.
“Like all pharmacy businesses, potential buyers should be thinking carefully about what changes their pharmacies are likely to need to make to fit into and remain profitable in the future models for the sector.”