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Future ownership of LloydsPharmacy chain to be decided within days

Written by on 23/07/2021

The owner of LloydsPharmacy, one of Britain’s biggest chains of chemists, is to decide within days on its future ownership after receiving takeover bids for the business.

Sky News understands that McKesson Corporation, which is listed in New York, is mulling the status of three offers which have been tabled for its British operations.

City sources said a decision about a preferred bidder could be made as early as next week.

General view of the entrance to a Sainsbury's supermarket, incorporating a Lloyds Pharmacy and an Argos store, in Whitley Bay, North Tyneside
Image: In 2016, the company bought Sainsbury’s network of nearly 300 in-store chemists

Aurelius Group, Epiris and HIG Europe lodged offers several days ago for LloydsPharmacy, which employs well over 15,000 people, and other McKesson companies in the UK.

These include All About Health, the UK’s biggest drug distributor.

Aurelius, Epiris and HIG each have track records at buying underperforming assets and attempting to revive them.

Bankers at Barclays are advising McKesson on the sale process.

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By some measures, McKesson is the biggest competitor in the UK to Boots the Chemist and its parent company, Walgreens Boots Alliance.

LloydsPharmacy operates a network of more than 1400 sites across the UK, employing more than 17,000 people.

Boots has almost 2,500 stores in the UK
Image: McKesson is the biggest competitor in the UK to Boots the Chemist

Hundreds of its outlets are based in GP surgeries.

The LloydsPharmacy estate was assembled over decades through the absorption of prominent industry names such as Savory & Moore, Cross & Herbert, Kingswood GK and Hills Pharmacy.

In 2016, the company bought Sainsbury’s network of nearly 300 in-store chemists.

LloydsPharmacy became part of McKesson in 2014, when the American group bought Celesio in a £5bn deal.

McKesson also owns John Bell & Croyden, a royal warrant-holding pharmacy in London’s Mayfair which has been enlisted as part of the government’s COVID-19 vaccination programme.

John Bell & Croyden opened in 1798 and claims to have been Her Majesty The Queen’s pharmacist since 1958.

In accounts filed at Companies House for the year to 31 March 2019 loss-making LloydsPharmacy described it as “another exceptionally challenging year”.

A spokesman for McKesson has been contacted for comment.

 Sky News

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