Huge pharmacy chain and Boots rival sells all 1,054 branches after string of closures – is your local affected? | The Sun

A HUGE pharmacy chain and Boots rival has sold all its high street and community chemists.

The owner of Lloyds Pharmacy has now exited the high street pharmacy business.

Hallo Healthcare Group, which is owned by investment group Aurelius, has sold all 1,054 high street and community pharmacies under the Lloyds Pharmacy branding.

The move has seen independent and local entrepreneurs snap up the chemists.

It means the Lloyds Pharmacy brand will soon be a relic of the past on Britain's high streets.

However, the Lloyds Pharmacy brand won't disappear in its own right.

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Hallo will continue to operate Lloyds Pharmacy Services which provides patient care to those in NHS hospitals, prisons and the private health sector.

It will also continue to operate its clinical homecare and online doctor service which provides the public with convenient online consultations with a GP.

Around 99% of branches will remain open in over 1,000 communities under new ownership, according to Hallo.

Over 6,500 branch colleagues have already secured employment with new owners.

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A spokesperson for Hallo Healthcare Group said: "Hallo Healthcare Group is pleased to have successfully sold its Lloyds Pharmacy high street and community branches. 

"The main priority has always been to keep pharmacies open and central to their communities, whilst ensuring ongoing employment for colleagues."

"Hallo Healthcare Group remains fully committed to the UK healthcare sector with teams across the Group continuing to serve patients and customers through its network of specialist pharmacies, online doctor services and clinical homecare.

"Whilst it may have left the high street, the Lloyds Pharmacy brand name and heritage remains in specialist pharmacy, clinical and digital healthcare."

Responding to the news, Malcolm Harrison, chief executive of the Company Chemists' Association (CCA), said it's "very concerning" that an owner of such a large organisation has exited the community pharmacy market.

He added: "Today's announcement 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.

"Access to medicines and other critical primary care services will continue to deteriorate as more and more pharmacies close."

It comes just months after sources told The Sun that Aurelius had launched a strategic review of its entire UK store base.

Community pharmacies are essential for providing services to local neighbourhoods but hundreds have been shut in recent years.

Lloyds Pharmacy previously shut all 237 of its pharmacies in Sainsbury's supermarkets.

At its peak, it had 17,000 employees across the business and dispensed 150 million prescriptions annually.

But Lloyds has struggled with losses for many years and shut 76 stores in 2022 and dozens more earlier this year.

Pharmacies have struggled financially for years due to the level of reimbursements they receive from the NHS and the soaring costs of pharmaceuticals.

Chemist chains are also being asked to pick up the slack from the struggling health service by providing more services, such as vaccinations.

The pharmacy industry has lost £1.6 billion in the last decade because the NHS's pharmacy contract has not kept pace with inflation.

Pharmacies have said that as a result, they face a massive cut to their real-term funding, which is resulting in mass closures.

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