Major pharmacy group enters liquidation, owing £293m

LloydsPharmacy has entered into liquidation, owing £293m to more than 500 creditors.

The group had gone on a year-long divestment spree, selling individual assets or packages of pharmacies resulting in the entire high street portfolio being sold.

Turpin Barker Armstrong Accountants, which were appointed to handle the process, said in its statement of affairs report that £293m is owed to 514 creditors.

This includes £228m owed to Admenta, the former owner of Lloyds Pharmacy as well as £50m to Aurelius Crocodile, a holding company for the group’s private equity owner Aurelius, which is used to control the company.

Liquidators of the Coventry-headquartered business said nearly £8.2m can be recovered for preferential creditors and only £800k for unsecured creditors.

Aurelius acquired McKesson in 2022, the parent company of a number of healthcare businesses including LloydsPharmacy, John Bell & Croyden and AAH Pharmaceuticals for £477m.

Since the takeover Lloyds Pharmacy removed its services out of all 237 Sainsbury’s supermarkets, placing 2,000 jobs at risk, due to “changing market conditions”.

It continued with the divestment strategy resulting in the entire high street portfolio being sold with deals such as Jhoots Pharmacy acquiring 36 sites across the UK, Co-op picking up all Channel Islands pharmacies and Blackadders purchasing 37 chemist shops for clients across Scotland.

Some staff who had been employed in Lloyds Pharmacy’s situated in Sainsbury’s stores and who had been made redundant last year are currently being represented by The Pharmacists’ Defence Association & The PDA Union (PDA) in an employment tribunal.

The hearing was postponed due to LloydsPharmacy changing its name to Diamond DCO Two and its representatives had only very recently become aware that Lloyds had gone into administration and that it was in the process of going into liquidation.

In a statement to staff, the PDA said: “The PDA recognises the surprise announcement that their former employer was being placed into liquidation will be a bitter blow for members who will be concerned that they may not now secure justice for the loss of their enhanced redundancy entitlement.

“Due to the company decision to go into liquidation, the tribunal claims by members face some challenges ahead. Even if these claims proceed to a final substantive hearing and a tribunal upholds them, there is a very real risk the company will have no money to pay any compensation awarded. Successful claimants would be deemed unsecured creditors and sit below other priority creditors for any money that may be left”.