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RPS generates £11m profit from sale of Lambeth headquarters

Business The RPS generated nearly £11 milion in profit from the sale of its Lambeth premises earlier this month, the society revealed this week, as it also announced it had bought a new site in East Smithfield, London, for £6m.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) generated nearly £11 million in profit from the sale of its Lambeth premises earlier this month, the society revealed this week, as it also announced it had bought a new site in East Smithfield, London, for £6m.

The RPS sold its headquarters for £15.3m, generating a net profit of approximately £10.9m, RPS director of finance Simon Redman told the society's annual general meeting on Wednesday (June 26). This was taking into account the sale value of £15.3m, less the costs of the sale and the original book value of the building.

The costs of buying and developing the new £6m headquarters in Smithfield, near Tower Hill underground station, would be placed on the balance sheet as a new fixed asset, he said.

The RPS sold its Lambeth headquarters for £15.3 million

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Mr Redman considered the price the RPS received for the Lambeth building to be reflective of the high cost of buildings in central London.

He added that the price of the new building at 66-68 East Smithfield was excellent for an area of high investment and was very cost-effective compared to other benchmark properties in the city. The RPS would pay the £6m over a period of years.  

"Purchasing freehold property in London is extremely difficult due to over-demand. It is only because the treasurer, president and rest of the assembly were able to react so quickly when the opportunity was presented to them that the RPS secured the purchase against considerable competitive interest," he told the meeting.

Work was continuing "at a pace" to refurbish the building, including improvements to its exterior, to make it ready for the move in either late 2014 or early 2015, he said. He predicted that annual overheads would be £400,000 lower than they are currently in Lambeth.

"This building has achieved all of the objectives laid down by the assembly: to reduce the overhead costs, to remove the distraction of being a landlord, to continue to have a base in central London to make it easy for staff members and stakeholders to use," Mr Redman said.

The RPS first announced its intention to sell its Lambeth headquarters last year, as part of its ongoing effort to "improve efficiency and cost effectiveness."

How should the RPS spend the money it has generated from the sale of its headquarters?

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Caroline Jones, Locum pharmacist

If the RPS genuinely wanted to improve efficiency and cost effectiveness then:
A. Get a new headquarters out of London, perhaps more centrally placed in the country for easier member (sorry stakeholder) access, where property prices are much cheaper.
B. Abolish the gold-plated pensions of the RPS staff and live in the real world of its membership.
C. Slash the exorbitant salary and perks of the non-pharmacist leading this organisation whose only talent seems to be for endlessly getting her picture taken.
D. Location out of London would also lead to a drop in staff salaries as the London weighting of them would be removed. We might then also get better quality more representaive staff for the profession.
E. Sack the president and treasurer who genuinely think that in a time where its members are experiencing severe financial hardship, that buying a new building in an area of high investment in the face of considerable competitive interest is a wise financial move when there are properties all over the country begging to be sold/rented for a song. After all it's only going to be housing a lot of money grubbing, hot air merchants.

They then might invest in the profession's future instead of refurbishing plush new offices for themselves. Eutopia? Nirvana? Heaven? Yes, you're right, I am kidding myself. Solution = scrap the damn lot and give the money saved to the PDA who is the only pharmacy lead organisation that is still willing to fight for a pharmacy future in the face of the multiples and the GPhC.

* This comment was edited for legal reasons

Chris Green, Hospital pharmacist

What an astonishingly disrespectful and nasty post. It's a shame the C&D didn't edit it completely off the website.

This looks to me like an eminently sensible decision on the part of the RPS. I would echo Ryan Hamilton's comments - the RPS CEO is one of the best things to hit the RPS. And as for being a non-pharmacist, we appointed her I assume against pharmacist applicants so what does that tell you. And let's face it, we didn't exactly set the world on fire when "we" were in charge did we?

Jonathan Burton, Superintendent Pharmacist

Caroline, I could write an essay in reply to this post but Ryan has done a pretty good job and I agree with all his points (most are factual in nature, take note), so I'll restrict myself to point C: just to say, YOU'RE WRONG.

Ryan Hamilton, Academic pharmacist

Not sure many of your comments are warranted here Caroline. Also, the footnote saying your comment was edited for legal reasons does make one think what the original contained!

A: The RPS meets with a lot of other organisations in London including other professional organisations and politicians. Moving out of London would massively increase the travel costs incurred by the staff who would have to travel back to London. This was exactly what happened when the DH opened its Leeds offices.

B: Everyone has the right to a pension and our colleagues whom work in community and hospital pharmacy are all able to have pensions with contributions from their employers. The picture of pensions will be the same for many other organisations including the NPA, PDA, etc.

C: Helen Gordon, in my opinion, is one of the best things to have ever happened to the RPS. We are now seeing the RPS become a true Royal College for pharmacy and become what it always should have been.

D: Not too sure I agree with you here. The RPS isn't a public service organisation so I don't believe they have to offer a London weighting to their wage offer.

E: Can't sack the President or Treasurer as they were elected (democratically, which is in contrast to your suggestion) by the membership and chosen from the three national boards by other board members. Even without the recent property sales and investments the RPS is in a more financially stable position than the last few years so I'm happy.

Finally. Giving all the RPS's money to the PDA really wouldn't do the profession any good at all. As a PDA member I am happy that I have a union that is separated from my royal college - because they have very different roles. The RCN, which is a royal college and union combined, have recently been criticised for their combined role by the very organisations they're trying to lobby. For pharmacy's sake, let's stick with the setup we have. Also, why should the PDA get all the money? We're not all PDA members, some of us are Guild members too.

I encourage you to take some time to look around the various news and representation sections of the RPS website to see what they're doing. They're a much better and different organisation since the demerger of the RPS, even since last year.

I for one am proud to be a member of the RPS.

Caroline Jones, Locum pharmacist

Calm down dear! I stand by all my post Mr Hamilton and before you get your panties into even more of a bind, the C&D deleted a mere two words.
Needing an expensive, lavishly appointed building in London to attend meetings and swank to our professional colleagues and politicians is a complete red herring. In this modern age of austerity and e-commerce is it beyond the wit of the RPS to use modern technology to interface with them in a more rapid and efficient fashion. They might then choose personal meetings more astutely and cost effectively instead of going to the opening of every fridge door. By the way does the RPS still bear the cost of a personal flat for the president?
I am very doubtful how much use they are at interacting with other professional groups anyway judging by the complete contempt Clare Gerada (head of RCGPs) had for pharmacy contributions in her recent remarks – hardy challenged by the RPS by the way. I’ve also just listened to a radio 4 prog ‘Medicine Now’ hosted by Dr Mark Porter (head of BMA) where they discussed 1. branded vs generic meds, 2. Is diclofenac safe OTC after recent warnings, 3. Hayfever meds with not a single pharmacy contribution, so not much regard there either. Remember the politician/medic who recently described us as overpaid smartie counters. I have what’s more never heard the RCN support us despite the vigilance of Pharmacists protecting their prescribing members on countless occasions. In fact in 25 years of pharmacy, I cannot recollect our professional relationships being any lower. Tell me, when Ms Gordon meets our other professional colleagues (all of whom are headed by qualified practitioners in their representative field) and is asked a technical question regarding pharmacy practice what do you think she says/does and how do you think that makes us look. Any correlation do you think?
I am well acquainted with the RPS website thank you and cringe with shame every time I visit; with its club med style adverts for fine dining at RPS headquarters not pharmacy services and achievements. I’m left totally disgusted at its inadequate reponses to government proposals and focus groups with not a single cogent argument backed by sound clinical/pharmacological evidence whilst claiming to be the experts on medicines. I spent 10 years in academia/industry and if a student presented some of the responses I’ve seen the RPS give, they’d be heading for the job centre.
The RPS has always done itself proud regarding wages, benefits and expenses and it had always paid the London weighting. Pensions are obligatory, however what is not acceptable is expensive final salary versions that its own members cannot obtain and which cost more to maintain than is spent on pharmacy services and business. Though with the customary RPS secrecy regarding its finances we’ll never know the true story.
You must have oxygen depravation in your high academic tower if you think there is a problem with the RCN! If the government does not like this that’s only because they run rings round them and usually get their way. Look what they and the GMC have obtained for their members over the last 10 years with regard professional opportunities, working hours, remuneration, things we can only dream about whilst the RPS have achieved sweet FA for its members. In fact in the last 3 years in particular pharmacy as gone backwards so fast it has reached crisis point. I encourage you to look down from your tower and see what’s really happening in the pharmacy trenches or is your advice to ‘let then eat cake’.
The real proof, however, of the anachronistic position of the RPS is its falling membership (despite its pathetic attempt to disguise this with its stunt regarding pre-reg/student membership). The RPS should be something to be proud of I agree, though sadly few of us are - except for a few looking to add more meaningless letters after their name. Pharmacy deserves better – a lot better.

Raymond Lee, Community pharmacist

The money belongs to its members and so there is a sense of duty to use it responsibly. Staff salaries or pension pots are NOT an option. Activities such as benevolent funds, hardships or promoting pharmacy education and development are worthwhile causes. We need to protect the future of pharmacy and it is what previous generations of pharmacists would expect our annual contributions to be used.

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