The Co-operative Pharmacy chain, taken over by Bestway last year, has been relaunched by the cash and carry giant as part of a £200 million investment programme which will develop the pharmacy portion of the business and create hundreds of jobs in the UK.
The rebranding of the 780-strong Co-op Pharmacy chain to the Well pharmacy banner is a signal of Bestway’s intention to meet the growing demand for primary healthcare services in local populations at a time when GP surgeries are under intense pressure and A&E departments are stretched to breaking point.
Bestway said it would support the launch of Well pharmacies to the tune of £40m a year for five years, funds that would support a major recruitment drive.
“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 and local A&E, as well as helping them make healthy lifestyle changes,” Bestway said in a statement.
“As well as dispensing prescriptions and over-the-counter medicines, Well’s professional pharmacists provide personalised healthcare services and products so every customer can make the most of their health.
“This investment will also enable the business to develop the role of the pharmacy team to support more people in 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.”
Well CEO 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.
“Ensuring more people make better use of the advice, services and products at Well, we can support the NHS in treating minor ailments and managing lifestyle health issues such as smoking and weight – relieving pressure on key NHS services.
“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 will invest £1.6m to build a headquarters for Well in Manchester and relocate 227 employees from the co-operative group’s head office in the same city.
“We are pleased to launch Well Pharmacy and the next chapter of this fantastic business’ story. We are confident in the new branding and have no doubt it has a bright future ahead,” said Zameer Choudrey, Bestway CEO.