Hallo Healthcare Group, which owns LloydsPharmacy, has announced that it has sold all of its 1,054 LloydsPharmacy high street and community pharmacies.
In a statement released on 23 November 2023, the group said that LloydsPharmacy Ltd is no longer operating pharmacies, adding that 99% of the branches it had previously operated would remain open under different ownership.
This figure does not include the 237 LloydsPharmacy branches that were withdrawn from Sainsbury’s supermarket, following an announcement in January 2023.
A spokesperson for Hallo Healthcare Group said the group was “pleased to have successfully sold its LloydsPharmacy high street and community branches”.
They added: “The main priority has always been to keep pharmacies open and central to their communities, whilst ensuring ongoing employment for colleagues.”
The Pharmaceutical Journal reported in October 2023 that LloydsPharmacy was operating just 138 branches at the time, almost 90% fewer than it ran in March 2022.
Malcolm Harrison, chief executive of the Company Chemists’ Association, said it was “very concerning that the owner of such a large organisation has chosen to exit the community pharmacy market” and that it “must serve as a wake-up call to the government and NHS”.
“Since 2015, core funding has been cut in real terms by 30% and there has been a net loss of more than 1,000 pharmacies. This calendar year alone, there has been a net loss of 299 pharmacies. All the while, workload associated with NHS services has risen inexorably,” Harrison said.
“Access to medicines and other critical primary care services will continue to deteriorate as more and more pharmacies close.”
Harrison was among the pharmacy representatives at the House of Commons Health and Social Care Select Committee inquiry into pharmacy on 21 November 2023, who told MPs that a lack of core funding was threatening the survival of community pharmacies.
Paul Day, director of the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA), said the exit from the market of what had been the UK’s second biggest pharmacy chain was “a significant change”, which may be “shocking to many people who have worked for LloydsPharmacy and others who have seen it as a key part of the community pharmacy sector”.
He added: “The PDA has worked with the company throughout the programme to avoid job losses, and it should be noted that, while the number of LloydsPharmacy branches has reduced, the other side of those transactions means that over 1,000 community pharmacy branches have been purchased by new owners, clearly demonstrating that operating a pharmacy can still be an attractive business proposition.”
In May 2023, Rowlands Pharmacy announced that it had bought 30 pharmacies in Scotland, which were previously LloydsPharmacy branches.
In October 2023, distance-selling pharmacy Pharmacy2U announced that it had bought LloydsDirect, an online pharmacy that was previously part of LloydsPharmacy.