High street pharmacy to be rebranded

The Co-operative Pharmacy gets £200 million revamp

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The Co-operative Pharmacy re-branded

The Co-operative Pharmacy is to be renamed after 70 years on the high street under a £200 million revamp by its new owners.

The chain's 780 stores, employing more than 7,000 staff, are relaunched under the new name Well.

It comes after family conglomerate Bestway bought the business from the ailing Co-operative Group for £620 million last October. Bestway is the firm behind the convenience shop brand Best-one.

Well said its five-year programme will create hundreds of jobs in a bid to boost customers as the population increases and people live longer.

It added it aimed expand revenues to £1 billion by 2019, from their current £750 million.

Well is the country's largest independent pharmacy chain, dispensing 73 million prescriptions each year. Co-operative Pharmacy was founded in 1945.

Well chief executive John Nuttall said: "Community pharmacies can play a key role in easing the increasingly unsustainable pressures faced by frontline NHS services, beyond simply providing prescriptions.

"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."

Bestway chief executive Zameer Choudrey said: "We have pledged to give Well strong support by committing to invest £200m over the next five years to help develop and grow the business, and to make sure Well continues to serve its customers and local communities to the high standard the business has always delivered."

Well said it will invest an additional £1.6 million establishing a new headquarters in Manchester, relocating 227 staff from the current Co-operative Group head office in the city.

The Co-operative Group has sold off a number of its businesses as it seeks to recover from the worst crisis in its 150-year history, when it suffered a £2.5 billion loss for 2013, dragged down by the near-collapse of its banking arm.

Last August it sold its farms business to the Wellcome Trust for £249 million. The Co-op sold its life insurance and asset management business to insurer Royal London for £219 million in 2013.

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