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'Is Lloydspharmacy really carrying 190 dud branches?'

"Could this simply be political posturing or clever PR?"

The Area Manager asks if there is an ulterior motive behind Lloydspharmacy's decision to put 190 branches up for sale

This week I read the news about Lloydspharmacy ceasing to trade in 190 locations across England with the same shock as everyone else. And that surprise is despite my intimate knowledge of how this company works and thinks.

Most Lloydspharmacy areas have pharmacies that overlap or compete with one another. My understanding is there are some pharmacies that don’t wash their own face financially, which even the benefits of vertical integration can’t drag away from the red.

In some locations, this has been caused by a lack of business, in others by the eye-watering rents or health centre ‘premiums’ they are committed to. I think this means the eventual list of affected Lloydspharmacy locations, when published, might not be the obvious places an outsider would guess.

It’s the number of affected pharmacies that surprises me. Is Lloydspharmacy really financially carrying 190 dud pharmacies – even with the cuts? Surely not? So could this simply be political posturing or clever PR? I noticed the news was picked up by lots of newspapers very quickly with scare headlines. I noticed that it was left to the usual pharmacy sector talking heads to comment. And now news is starting to trickle out within the sector, but not the media channels of Joe Public, that actually many will be sold on instead.

So despite my initial shock, I am already thinking something different is in play. A clever ploy to get customers of the quietest, most isolated pharmacies to rally in support of their pharmacy? Does this, in certain places, turn the ‘tolerated’ corporate in the village into a cuddly cause célèbre for its local politically active busybodies? Has the press coverage been timed to poke a stick at a government spinning a lot of wobbly plates?

It’s becoming clear to me that Lloydspharmacy staff at all levels, including area managers, are quite possibly pawns in a larger game of political and financial chess. I am certain the number of affected locations will end up much, much smaller. Within that, many of them will be sold on successfully, maintaining jobs and terms and conditions.

I reckon that in overstating the risks so cleverly, when the actual moves made are much smaller, a point has been proved externally and the remaining colleagues will experience a feeling of relief that translates into renewed energy and performance.

However, that’s no consolation for those who right now feel at risk of losing a job that I know most of them love.

The Area Manager has worked for all of the large multiples

6 Comments

Jackie Robinson, Marketing

Every branch still makes profit. Just not enough for the people at the top

Patricia Westhead, Dispenser Manager/ Dispensing Assistant

Lloyds sold off quite a few pharmacies this time last year so surely if they haven't suddenly found another 190 under- performing branches and how much of this is connected to Cormac's sudden departure

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

Of course they aren't carrying dud branches - they would have got rid of those years ago! There will be something in this for them -  I would imagine most closures will be where there are two branches close together and in their typical corporate arrogance they think that everyone will simply go to the other Lloyds instead. What I sincerely hope is that some of these branches are bought by enterprising independents who show the big boys what real pharmacy is and turn a few more Lloyds into duds.

Dave Downham, Manager

No hope of these going to independents who would run rings round the big chains.

Aisha Adnan, Community pharmacist

I think sale is going to happen, the funds generated will be invested in the Lloyds hub and spoke they will start, otherwise who kills off 190 branches all if a sudden. It doesn’t happen unless they have negotiated hard with govt  and found a suitable solution to their problems. Cut down branches and open digital online pharmacies-that’s what i think is happening and Lloyds and government both gain and even patients may have a gain because the medicines will be made available to them but eventually loss is of pharmacists who were working in front line. We don’t have enough jobs out there to take us in. 

James Harbottle, Community pharmacist

Whilst the PDA are trying to secure bargaining rights for Pharmacists the DoH (+friends, you know who I mean) are pushing for remote/tech supervision. Does Mr Hunt really want another powerful union to contend with along side Nurses/ Doctors? Of course not. Does S.P want Pharmacists to have bargaining rights? Of course not. American business views this as tantamount to communism. (note American history, Pinkertons vs Unions). Point being that scurrying along with the supervision changes will protect the business from any industrial action in the event (heaven forbid) that Pharmacists are granted bargaining rights. After all the, pharmacy could continue running basic dispensing/ sales (With no pharmacist present, with little negative PR) therefore nullifying any leverage that we have.

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