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Well Pharmacy seeks to pacify watchdog by axing seven stores


Well Pharmacy seeks to pacify watchdog by axing seven stores

Well Pharmacy parent company Bestway has told the Competition and Markets Authority it is prepared to divest seven pharmacies to assuage the watchdog’s concerns about its merger deal with Lexon.

In an update on Tuesday June 20, the state body said it had “reasonable grounds for believing” that Bestway’s new offer, or a “modified version” of it, “might be accepted by the CMA under the Enterprise Act 2002”.

Last week, Pharmacy Network News reported that the CMA had decided following an early investigation that Bestway’s acquisition of Lexon “may be expected to result in a substantial lessening of competition” within the market and planned to proceed to a phase 2 investigation “unless the parties offer acceptable undertakings to address these competition concerns”.

Lexon operates 46 pharmacies under the Knights Pharmacy brand. The CMA had found that the merger could lead to a “significant lessening of competition” between pharmacies in 12 local areas located in Liverpool and the North East of England.

Particular concerns were raised about potential “worse outcomes” for patients as a result of the merger, such as “the quality and speed of service”, waiting times and opening hours – but the CMA’s latest statement indicates it may be prepared to drop its investigation following Bestway’s offer. 

It is unclear which pharmacies would be divested as part of Bestway’s offer. The CMA will decide within 10 working days after the Phase 1 decision (June 15) whether Bestway's terms are acceptable.

Well Pharmacy CEO Seb Hobbs told PNN: “We believe strongly that choice and competition are vital in community pharmacy. The CMA process is, rightly, a confidential one – and we are unable to comment further at this time. We will continue to work closely with the CMA to ensure a smooth process.”

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