Well completes acquisition of pharmacy chain in first step of expansion plan


L to r: Paul Berne, commercial director, Christian Logue portfolio and business development director, John Nuttal Well CEO

The UK’s largest independent pharmacy chain, Well – formerly the Co-operative Pharmacy – has completed the acquisition of Care4u Pharmacy, a local community pharmacy chain that consists of seven branches in South Devon.

The purchaseis part of a £200m five-year expansion plan announced by Well last month, following its £620m acquisition from The Co-operative Group by new owners Bestway Group.

Care4u pharmacy employs around 70 employees at seven local pharmacies located in Brixham, Teignmouth (two), Paignton (two), Kingskerswell and Torquay.

The pharmacies will continue to operate under the Care4u brand in the interim, with a refurbishment and rebrand to Well, set to take place within the next 12 months. No branches are at risk following the acquisition.

John Nuttall, CEO of Well, said: “The vision and values of Care4u match ours, so they are a perfect fit for Well. They are a highly respected pharmacy chain within the South Devon community, known for its passion for providing excellent customer service. We share that passion at Well and pride ourselves on providing personalised healthcare and wellbeing in the heart of local communities’.

As well as dispensing prescriptions and over-the-counter medicines, Well’s professional pharmacists provide personalised healthcare services and products so that every customer can make the most of their health.  

Well aims to facilitate increased access to high quality pharmacy services that deliver improved health and support the NHS.  In driving more people to use Well pharmacies, it will save customers visits to their GP, and local hospital A&E departments, as well as helping them make healthy lifestyle changes.

Nuttall continued: “Community pharmacies can play a key role in relieving pressure on key NHS services and we are committed to investing £200m over the next five years to grow our business. This will enable us to develop the role of the pharmacy team and to make sure Well continues to serve its customers and local communities to the high standard the business has always delivered.”

As demand grows, due to factors such as increasing population size and longer life expectancy, Well aims to increase customer numbers with its enhanced proposition and grow current annual revenues of £750m to £1bn by 2019.

The three former directors of the Care4u business, directors Kevin Muckian, Mark Healey and Martin Frankland, issued a joint statement: Care4u Pharmacy is a very special business and it was a very difficult decision for us to sell, but it was important to us that we were handing the business over to a company who we could trust and shares our values.

“We firmly believe that Well are the best company to take care of the welfare of our colleagues and we are confident that they can continue to build on the successes of Care4u in South Devon.”

KPMG and Sarah Walton from Weightmans, advised Well on the acquisition, along with Kevin Harrall and Martin Phypers from Pharmacy Advice, Consultancy and Sales (PACS) who acted on behalf of Care4u.  

Kevin Harrall, PACS, said: “The sale was completed quickly and efficiently, due to the professionalism demonstrated by both parties and their advisors. We look forward to working with Well as they continue to grow the business in the future”.

Walton said: “Both Well and Care4u have the wellbeing of their customers at heart so we are confident this deal will enable the branches concerned to continue providing high quality services to their local communities.”