Bestway purchase of Lexon raises competition concerns, says CMA
A fast-track phase 1 investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has confirmed that the purchase of independent pharmacy group Lexon UK Holdings Limited by pharmacy multiple operator Bestway Panacea Holdings Limited would raise competition concerns in several local areas.
Bestway operates around 750 pharmacies in the UK under the Well brand. In April 2023, it completed its acquisition of Lexon, which operates 46 pharmacies under the Knights Pharmacy label.
The CMA’s investigation 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.
The merging businesses conceded that the deal raises competition concerns and have submitted proposals to sell pharmacies within these areas to restore the competition that would otherwise be lost as a result of the deal, according to the CMA.
Colin Raftery, senior director of mergers, said: "Pharmacies are essential public health services and it’s vital that the loss of competition brought about by a deal like this shouldn’t leave people with reduced choice or worse services when they need medical support.
“The CMA will now carefully consider whether the remedy put forward by Bestway will address our concerns and ensure that customers in the affected areas continue to have access to good quality chemists,” he added.