Bestway to rename former Co-operative Group pharmacy chain as ‘Well’

A branch the Co-operative Group's former pharmacy business which is to be rebranded as Well by new o

A branch the Co-operative Group's former pharmacy business which is to be rebranded as Well by new owner Bestway. - Credit: Archant

The pharmacy chain which was formerly part of the Co-operative Group is to be rebranded under a £200million revamp by its new owner.

Bestway Group, the company behind Best-one convenience stores, which acquired the Co-op Group’s 780-strong pharmacy chain last October for £620m, is to relaunch the business under the new name Well.

The five-year programme is expected to see the creation of several hundred new jobs, in addition to the stores’ existing workforce of more than 7,000, as part of a strategy to boost revenues by a third to £1billion by 2019.

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 added: “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 wold invest an additional £1.6m to establish a new headquarters in Manchester, relocating 227 staff from the current Co-op Group head office in the city.

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

It sold its life insurance and asset management business to insurer Royal London for £219m in 2013 and its farms business to the Wellcome Trust last August for £249m.

Its former pharmacy chain, which dispenses 73m prescriptions each year, was founded in 1945. It includes stores in Lowestoft, Haverhill, Halstead, Carlton Colville, Saffron Walden and Diss.

The East of England Co-operative Society, which is based at Wherstead Park, near Ipswich, and is separate from the Co-op Group, continues to operate its own pharmacy stores in Ipswich, Felixstowe, Saxmundham and Stowmarket.