Layer 1

Rowlands considering 'reducing' pharmacies to cope with funding cuts

Kenny Black: We are reducing our cost base and branches where appropriate
Kenny Black: We are reducing our cost base and branches where appropriate

Rowlands is considering “reducing its branch network” because of the “draconian” cuts to community pharmacy funding in England, its managing director has revealed.

While the multiple is doing “all it can” to address the financial impact of the cuts, “the reality is that the commercial viability of community pharmacy is being hit on a number of fronts”, Kenny Black told C+D.

C+D understands Rowlands – the UK’s fourth-largest pharmacy chain, with more than 500 branches and 4,800 employees – is looking at which of its branches are financially unviable, and considering merging those located close to each other.

A Rowlands spokesperson told C+D the multiple does not have a target number of branches it plans to close or merge.

Read C+D's analysis of how the four largest multiples are coping with the funding cuts here

Mr Black told C+D: “We are doing all we can to address the draconian cuts we have seen to community pharmacy funding, including reducing our cost base, identifying new revenue opportunities, and where appropriate reducing our branch network.

“Ministers say there are too many pharmacies, and yet when we propose to merge branches without reducing patient access it is a very long and expensive process,” he added.

Prior warnings

In April 2017, Rowlands announced it was looking at “alternative ways” of operating in response to the funding cuts in England, and warned “if we do not look at our cost levels, we may be forced to close pharmacies”.

It moved the “labour-intensive” preparation of medicine trays from branches to a central location, and began to “re-look at the staff levels in branches”.

The following month, Rowlands employees told C+D that accuracy checking technicians were being “reprofiled” as part of its cost-cutting measures, which the company refused to comment on at the time.

What do you make of Kenny Black's comments?

Jess Harvey, Accuracy checking technician

“Reprofiled” = made redundant 

P M, Community pharmacist



Jonny Johal, Pharmacy Area manager/ Operations Manager

Have they not bought stores which were deemed unprofitable from other companies?

Jonny Johal, Pharmacy Area manager/ Operations Manager

Management: Kenny Black had to go ‘undercover’ in a TV programme in order to find out things about his company, things that he should know.

Jonny Johal, Pharmacy Area manager/ Operations Manager

Kenny Black, the TV star of "Undercover Boss", he had to go undercover to find out what went on in 'his' company (evidential record of his immense management skills) ... and now, this? He must realise that the taxpayer is not motivated to keep uneconomical pharmacies solvant, are closures the only solution he has or is he just posturing politically? I think this throws up more questions about how Rowlands grew their stores numbers than funding. Umm ... I can still remember my last conversation with him, and I am glad I never worked for Rowlands.

Job of the week

Support Pharmacist
Queen Elizabeth Hospital and Heartl
up to £47,500 dependent on hours (30-40 hours flexible)