Investment fund prescribes £12m boost for online pharmacy group
A Skelmersdale company behind growing online pharmacy Chemist4U has received a £12m investment from Bolton’s Pitalia Capital.
Parent company, JCCO Healthcare, also includes the weight management platform myBMI.
John Davies, managing partner of Pitalia Capital, will join the board following the investment.
Pitalia Capital is an equity investment company funded by Anil Pitalia, founder of SpaMedica, and specialises in healthcare and manufacturing.
James O’loan, chief executive of both Chemist4U and myBMI, said the funding would “turbocharge” growth.
Chemist4U has acquired a 40,000 sq ft property in Skelmersdale to centralise its operations and plans to increase its workforce from 120 to 150 inside 18 months.
The online pharmacy handles 190,000 orders a month and is on track to hit £29m turnover in the 12 months to the end of September – up from £21m in 2021/22.
MyBMI was founded in 2021 and is a bespoke weight management HealthTech platform, giving patients access to weight loss treatments and is on track to hit £10m turnover in 2023/24.
O’loan said: “Our plan is for Chemist4U to become one of the biggest NHS dispensing facilities in the country as well as support partners with our outsourced dispensing services which is our fastest growing division.”
He and his business partner, COO Ricardo Laverty, hadn’t been seeking investment until a meeting with Pitalia changed their mind. He said: “We’ve had plenty of investor interest but because we were profitable we didn’t feel the need to rush.
“Anil was assisting us with acquiring the property in Skelmersdale and wanted to get on board as an investor to turbocharge the growth. As soon as I met Anil I really connected with him. He’s a healthcare professional, like myself, and he has already been hugely successful with SpaMedica.”
Chemist4U was launched to disrupt the pharmacy industry through technology.
O’loan, who joined Chemist4U as a superintendent pharmacist in 2012 before becoming CEO in 2018, said: “We are trying to digitalise NHS, over-the-counter and private medicine provisions.
“When your doctor writes a prescription it will come to us electronically and we can automatically ship it out to you from our warehouse with next day delivery, with the whole journey tracked on the Chemist4U app.
“It means you can order and receive a prescription without leaving your home.”
NHS dispensing is one of three divisions within Chemist4U, alongside an over-the-counter medicine platform – www.chemist4u.com – and a white labelled outsourced dispensing pharmacy service.
O’loan said: “We already have automation in place. The new premises will allow us to expand the robotics, centralise the dispensing and bring a really efficient process to customers and partners.”
Earlier this month the weight loss drug, Wegovy, was launched in the UK and O’loan said the investment would allow myBMI to expand its services further in relation to weight management: “We review the patient digitally, we check their NHS summary care record to make sure the medicine is safe for them and we write to their GP to let them know we’re having a private consultation with them for this medication. We then provide them with the medicine and guide them through this weight loss journey.”
Anil Pitalia, head of Pitalia, said: “James and Ricardo have done an incredible job and are a very entrepreneurial and innovative team.
“They’ve really embraced technology. To be able to get your medication delivered to your doorstep the next day without having to go to another pharmacy is hugely convenient and efficient. We see huge growth potential.
“In terms of myBMI, they are already leaders in this field and it’s an area where they see they can add a lot of value, particularly on the NHS side when trying to tackle the obesity crisis.”
John Davies, managing partner at Pitalia Capital, said: “The margins in the pharmacy sector are so tight that some pharmacies are failing. The only way to make it financially viable is through the diversification of the service/product offering and automation at higher volumes, and C4U now has the infrastructure and fire power to deliver this at a significant scale.”
Paul Medlicott, of Addleshaw Goddard, advised JCCO Healthcare, while James Kennedy, of Cowgills, and Jonathan Gillow, of Hill Dickinson, acted for Pitalia Capital.
Other advisors in the deal included Alex Hall and Sonia Hands at Claritas Tax, Jenny Kirkham and Lucas Thornley at Cortus, Gareth Elliott at PMSI Strategy, and Paul Cook at UKGlobal Risk Solutions.