Some 62 branches of LloydsPharmacy have either closed or been sold since October 2017, according to statistics compiled by pharmacy data analysts who have been tracking the business changes on the high street.
PharmData said its analysis of data from NHS community pharmacy listings and script activity held by NHS Digital show some branches that were either closed or sold were “performing well” with a “reasonable number” of prescriptions dispensed.
In the autumn of 2017, Celesio UK announced that it planned to close 190 branches in England that were no longer considered “commercially viable”.
But Oliver Staunton, a pharmacist and developer from PharmData, claimed the statistics suggest that the decision whether to close a branch was influenced by its proximity to another LloydsPharmacy, and not just by its number of monthly script items.
“Some of the branches that are being closed were performing well, with a reasonable number of prescription items, and while some were declining, some were actually growing,” said Staunton.
“I believe the branches that have been closed are those that were situated close to other branches of Lloyds, so the patients from the closing branch could be transferred to the other branch.
”Rather than being a case of closing down stores that are unprofitable, I think it was more a case of cost-cutting by reducing the number of Lloyds in areas where there is already another Lloyds,” he added.
When Staunton looked at the branches that were sold, he found they were often not near another LloydsPharmacy branch.
“Some of these branches are again performing quite well in terms of script items, so there must be some other criteria that they have used to decide which branches to close/sell other than just looking at prescription items,” he said.
In a statement, Celesio UK, which runs LloydsPharmacy, told The Pharmaceutical Journal that its intention is to close approximately 190 branches through a mixture of closures and divestments.
“This is an ongoing process and we are unable to share more details until this is completed. As part of our decision-making process, we have looked at community pharmacy provision in the impacted areas with a view to mitigating the impact on patients as much as possible,” the statement said.
“We are taking every opportunity to direct patients to other community pharmacies to support a smooth transition and ensure uninterrupted service. We are also supporting colleagues at this difficult time and redeploying members of the team, where possible, to other LloydsPharmacy locations where vacancies exist.”