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Watchdog presses ahead with Sainsbury's sale investigation

Lloydspharmacy: Welcomes opportunity to put case forward

Lloydspharmacy made no attempt to address concerns that its acquisition of the supermarket's pharmacies would reduce consumer choice

The government’s competition watchdog will press ahead with an "in-depth" investigation into Lloydspharmacy’s acquisition of Sainsbury’s pharmacy business, it has revealed.

The multiple and supermarket giant had until December 18 to address the Competition and Markets Authority’s (CMA) concerns that the £125 million deal would reduce patient choice in 78 areas.

Initially, the CMA told C+D that the two companies had made new proposals to address the concerns, but it announced last week (December 29) that it had received no such plans, and will therefore launch its investigation.

It will make a decision on whether to allow the deal to go ahead by June 16, it said.

Lloyds welcomes investigation

Lloydspharmacy welcomed the investigation as an "opportunity to put our case forward". It still intends to complete the deal – which will see 281 Sainsbury's pharmacies rebranded by the end of February, it told C+D today (January 5).

The CMA told C+D that the companies are allowed to complete the deal, but they "run the risk" of having to "unwind" this process depending on the outcome of its investigation.

The investigation process

The CMA will write to interested parties, including Lloydspharmacy’s rivals, to gather opinions on the deal, the watchdog said.

The "wide-ranging" investigation will also seek input from customers and independent pharmacists, it said. Anyone with a view on the merger can email their views to [email protected].

A panel of experts – usually consisting of economists and lawyers – will assess all the views and make a final decision on the deal, the CMA added. 


Will you submit your views to the investigation?

We want to hear your views, but please express them in the spirit of a constructive, professional debate. For more information about what this means, please click here to see our community principles and information


Kathryn Williams, Pharmacy technician

I am technician for Sainsbury's and have been sold down the line. I have 25 years service and loyalty with Sainsbury's, Having spent thousands of pounds at my store over the years I have been told, even though I am classed as a veteran that I will no longer have staff discount, My share save options are also being taken from me. We have not received any decent answers to our questions from either company. Will we be sold on again in June if the decision goes against Lloyds. What about my pension as I only have 6 years to retirement. At the end of the day loyalty does not mean anything to these big companies, you are just a number to them. What ever happens it is the companies that gain everything and we loose everything. As you can tell I feel very let down by Sainsbury's and abandoned.

dave k, Community pharmacist

I presume its near enough a done deal with a few tweaks- they not going to transfer all sainsburys pharmacy colleagues to llodys by march 2016 if they weren't sure the deal with be given the go ahead in june 2016

A Sujetov, Community pharmacist

I worked for Lloyds before and currently working for Sainsbury's. All I will say, as the big brother ... might be watching, greediness rules the world. We, ordinary pharmacist and dispensers, will not achieve anything. We will, as usual, just moan and moan silently. I see only one way to change it into positive direction - go on strike! We have to unite, perhaps through PDA. Just a thought :) All the best.

Stephen Eggleston, Community pharmacist

OK everyone - let's have s bit of common sense here. They talk about consumer choice - but what about those places with no consumer choice eg certain rural areas where you have to use the dispensing doctor service because if a pharmacy contract was granted they may have to scale back on "patient services" (scale back on new cars more like). When the market was opened up to allow supermarkets to get contracts on the basis of floor space or opening hours, does anybody really believe patients said "Oh, goody. Now I have an additional choice of where to get my prescription" or did they think "Sod the local pharmacy (whoever ran it), now I can drop off my prescription when I go in and by the time I've done my shopping, it will be ready". They don't care who owns it, as long as it gives them the service they want. This all seems a lot of fuss over not very much. By the way, if you think this is just another step on the slippery slope to all of pharmacy being owned by a few big companies, I believe we have already missed that boat. All that is stopping it are the entrepreneurs who want to work for themselves

Chemical Mistry, Information Technology

Feel sorry for the staff at sainsburys no love shown to them from their employers who have made it a very successful area of business for them, lets hope it fails leaving sainsburys with egg on their face instead they want to buy Argos which is a poor performing business Also why buy a business which has a minimum 6% taken off the bottom line by the government I would at least renegotiate the deal again the business is not worth what they thought they were buying, Go and figure! Also I would urged all other pharmacy business's affected by he deal to write to the cma since it would be in their interest in the long run together any employee of the two companies since once Tupe is finished the easiest way of saving money is staff redundancies.

Leon The Apothecary, Student

That will be interesting to hear from an employee whom is going to be affected by this change.

shelton magunje, Community pharmacist

I am an emplyee of Sainsburys but my opinion here is all mine and mine alone. I practiced as a locum for all the major pharmacy retailers between 2002 and 2009 before choosing Sainsburys as the best of the lot for fulltime employment. My decision was based on -Sainsburys' decent pension contribution (7% versus 1% from LLoyds), -annual wages (45k for 39hr week vs 45k for 45hr week from LLoyds) -Flexible working hours (3 or 4 day week vs 5day week in Boots and other) -10% staff discount on all my shopping (food, clothes, tv, ipad, anything stocked by Sainsburys) -upto 20% Annual Bonus ( i never got 20% in the past 7 years but i did get some decent money every year) -freedom to do my own weekly rota and book my own decent locums - Area Managers who are pharmacists and have actually been in charge of pharmacies before -Reasonable pressure to complete MURs (no threats) -Lots of internal and external management training If you have had the patience to read through this then you probably guess how 'excited' i am to be sold off to another employer. I do genuinely believe that LLoyds have made some commendable effort to make us feel welcome, but unfortunately they are not gonna change their business model just to please the 2000 employees coming in from Sainsburys; so ultimately "its suck it or leave it"

C A, Community pharmacist

Sounds like you will have terrible pay rises to look forward to as well, as Lloyds will be looking to get you closer to their pharmacist normal of 1k per hr. Though with the next funding settlement that looks to be dropping too...

Rachael Wilks, Pharmacy technician

I am one of those staff members that will be affected. There is employees in the sainsburys pharmacy business that are happy with the change like myself and also some that are not going be transferring over. In my personal opinion I can't wait for the change as the business under Sainsburys has become stagnant and isn't going anywhere anytime soon. Lloyds can take the business in a direction that Sainsburys would never have gone and with them being a well established and knowledgeable pharmacy business they understand all aspects of this area. I have worked for sainsburys coming up to 13 years now and while I will miss working for the company in some ways on the other hand I can't wait for the next chapter of taking the business forward and having my superiors fully understand what the pharmacy business entails. Thanks Rachael

Farm Assistant, Community pharmacist

The only direction will be over a cliff!

Super Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

Racheal, you obviously haven't worked for Lloyds before in any capacity!

Rachael Wilks, Pharmacy technician

Have you worked for Sainsburys before? No I haven't worked for lloyds before but have you worked in the retail business they don't have a clue how to run pharmacies and when there is a pharmacy area manager that has just come into the role who has never had a job within any pharmacy at any level and has come into the job from being grocery area manager trying to tell you how to run the pharmacy it is very frustrating. There is bad points about every business and every job but I think lloyds can take the business forward where Sainsburys cannot.

Chris ., Community pharmacist


Farm Assistant, Community pharmacist

So Lloyds intends to complete the deal by the end of february and the CMA will decide whether the deal can go ahead by June 16th. Now I know i have still not sobered up since the new year. Can you imagine any independent being allowed to buy a business in the same way? or me building an extension on my house? Folks, we don't live in a democracy.

Harry Tolly, Pharmacist

A nod and a wink and a ? You will be not be surprised, nor shocked, at how big money operates.

N O, Pharmaceutical Adviser

""""A panel of experts – usually consisting of economists and lawyers –"""" ........ That sums it all about the outcome !!!! When would actual common man be on any of these panels to decide where their future stands???

Dave Downham, Manager

Maybe thee and me should apply to be on the panel - I'm sure you're an expert at something, just like me!

Dave Downham, Manager

Latest conspiracy theory; Lloyds had a defence all planned but then came "the letter" from NHSE. All of a sudden, it doesn't look so appetising, so let the deal fail, Sainsbury's pharmacies fail and then Lloyds have some dominance - sorry, reduced patient choice - in 78 areas, as helpfully pointed out to them by the CMA. Just something I heard down the pub...

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