Bestway pays Co-op £620m for pharmacies

Catherine Neilan
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THE CO-OPERATIVE Group completed the sale of its pharmacy business to Bestway for £620m yesterday, with the funds going to pay down some of the mutually owned company’s debts.

The completion follows the announcement this summer that Bestway had fought off competition from other suitors for the 774-store chain, including Lloyds Pharmacy, Carlyle Group and Alliance Boots, according to reports at the time.

Bestway will have the right to operate under The Co-operative Pharmacy brand for a transitional 12-month period.

The Co-operative Group has already shed its farming business, which equated to nearly 16,000 hectares of British farmland, 15 farms and more than 100 residential properties, offloading everything to the Wellcome Trust charity for £249m.

Last week, Co-op revealed it had cut its board to a “transitional” leadership team of seven, removing 11 other directors, as the firm attempts to get back on track.

It comes after a year that saw its biggest-ever loss, amounting to £2.5bn for 2013, as well as a series of scandals around its bank’s thenchairman Paul Flowers.