Pharmacy chain to invest £20m in new robot-led Derbyshire HQ

(L-R): Peter Cattee (founder and director of Peak Pharmacy), Darryl Dethick (head of business transformation) and Joe Cattee (managing director)

A fast-growing pharmacy chain is set to build a new 113,000 sq ft headquarters at Markham Vale that will house 100 staff and, it says, potentially transform the business.

Chesterfield-based Peak Pharmacy has launched the multimillion-pound Project Horizon venture on the former Coalite coking plant in Derbyshire with the aim of handling prescriptions and despatching medicine for the firm’s 150 community pharmacies across England.

Prescriptions will be assembled for individual patients, then either delivered to local pharmacies for collection the next day, or direct to patients’ homes.

The facility will use robots and automated systems to support staff handling over 400,000 medicines and other prescribed items every month – that’s 20,000 a day, more than 40 every minute.

Peak Pharmacy’s move is in response to caps in Government funding, which mean that pharmacy businesses are having to be more efficient in how they handle prescriptions.

Centralising the process will also free up local pharmacists and Peak Pharmacy staff to provide other services for patients, such as vaccinations, blood pressure checks and healthy living advice.

Managing director Joe Cattee, whose parents Peter and Jane founded Peak Pharmacy in 1981, said: “These are ambitious plans for our company, staff and customers – in the face of a rapidly changing pharmacy landscape.

“This will be transformational for us. We’re investing now to future-proof our business, so that we can continue to provide great local customer service which means so much to us.”

The new hub is due to open in April next year. It will house up to 100 staff, with the potential to grow into a 24-hour operation in future.

Peak Pharmacy is planning to be in a position to offer a centralised dispensing service to other independent pharmacies which don’t have the resources to develop their own centralised service, should the legislation allowing this change in the near future.

Cattee added: “We’re inviting other pharmacies to contact us now, so we can show them how our hub can benefit them too.”

The company is investing more than £20m on Project Horizon, a significant proportion of which will be spent on automation technology. Around 40% of all prescriptions can be processed in this way.

The project will replace five smaller existing Peak Pharmacy sites in Derbyshire.