The Co-op Group moves into digital pharmacy sector

With the acquisition of a digital repeat prescription platform, the Co-op Group is to re-enter the pharmacy sector four years after selling off its chain of brick-and-mortar community pharmacies.

Co-op Ventures, a new ‘innovation unit’ that is “designed to disrupt markets in which the Co-op does not currently operate”, announced that it had agreed a deal with Dimec, a digital platform that helps patients and GPs manage repeat prescriptions and is supported by the NHS.

While the Co-op did not reveal what it had spent on the acquisition, Sky News, who originally broke the story ahead of the official announcement, quoted a source who put the sum at less than £10m.

The Co-op sold off its pharmacies to the Bestway Group for £620m in 2014 following the collapse of its retail banking division. In 2015, Bestway began rebranding the company as Well Pharmacy. Well is currently the UK’s third largest pharmacy multiple.

Co-op Ventures director Tim Davies said that the acquisition “allows us to accelerate the development of our healthcare proposition, and provides the technology required to ensure customers can interact with their NHS GP more conveniently.

“Our healthcare offer will be designed for convenience and to meet the increasingly complex health and wellbeing needs of people as they live longer.”

The acquisition of Dimec is a “core element” in achieving these goals, Mr Davies said.

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