Following its £620million acquisition of the Co-Op Pharmacy chain last October, Bestway yesterday announced that it was creating the UK’s largest independent chemist chain (780 branches nationwide) under the new name Well – marking the start of what Bestway claims is “a £200m investment injection that will drive growth and create hundreds of jobs across the UK”.
In a statement, Bestway said the re-brand to Well, aimed to separate the business from the old Co-Op parent; and kick-starts a five-year expansion strategy.
“There is planned capital investment of £40m per annum, with a major recruitment and expansion drive to support the growing demand for primary healthcare services in local communities,” said a spokesperson. “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, local hospital A amp;E, as well as helping them make healthy lifestyle changes.
“[Our] investment will also enable the business to develop the role of the pharmacy team to support more people within the local communities they serve. This will be in the form of planned increased recruitment of hundreds of employees each year across all areas of the UK. There will be capital investment in the renovation and relocation of existing branches; along with plans to acquire more pharmacies and investing in establishing a wholesale pharmacy business.”
John Nuttall (pictured), CEO of Well, said that Well aimed to increase customer numbers and grow current annual revenues of £750m to £1bn by 2019.
“Bestway Group’s major investment will not only create new jobs, it will also enable the business to develop the role of the pharmacy team to provide personalised healthcare and deliver an excellent patient experience, improving health and reducing health inequalities in local communities in the process.
“This is a very exciting time for the Features > Business, our employees and our customers, and ultimately our strategy will see us reach a place where local communities treat their local Pharmacy as a first ‘port of call’ in making the most of their health.”
Bestway Group CEO Zameer Choudrey added: “We are very pleased to announce and launch Well Pharmacy, and excited to begin rolling out the next chapter of this fantastic business’ story. We are confident in the new branding that has been created and have no doubt that it has a bright future ahead.
“Moreover, we have pledged to give Well Pharmacy strong support by committing to invest £200m over the next five years to help develop and grow the Features > Business, and to make sure Well continues to serve its customers and local communities to the high standard the business has always delivered.”
A further £1.6m is being invested into establishing a new headquarters for Well in Manchester, relocating 227 colleagues from the current Co-operative Group head office.
The business will move into the 22,000 sq ft Merchants Warehouse, a Grade II listed building in Manchester’s historic Castlefield district, in late 2015(Q4) – with the location chosen in line with the heritage of the business and its historic links to the North of England.