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Davidsons Chemists plans to acquire more pharmacies

Allan Gordon, managing director of Davidsons Chemists, which owns RS McPherson in Broughty Ferry.
Allan Gordon, managing director of Davidsons Chemists, which owns RS McPherson in Broughty Ferry.

Perthshire-based Davidsons Chemists is currently in discussions with a number of targets as it continues to grow its portfolio of pharmacies.

The company now has 42 outlets across Scotland – well ahead of the 10 sites in Perthshire and Fife just over 20 years ago.

Managing director Allan Gordon said: “Our latest acquisitions were in Dumfries and Galloway, with two pharmacies joining us in Langholm and Lockerbie.

“We are still on track to acquire two Dunblane pharmacies on May 1.”

Seeking opportunities

Davidsons is examining acquisition opportunities across Scotland.

Mr Gordon added: “The short-term goal remains to achieve 50 pharmacies, with all new acquisitions being funded out of profits rather than borrowings.”

Davidsons has its headquarters and central warehouse facility in Blairgowrie. It also has a subsidiary in the town, which trades as an agricultural merchant.

Latest results for the Walter Davidson and Sons group, just posted at Companies House, show an increase in turnover in the year to January 31 2020 – rising to £41.73 million from £40.54m previously.

Pre-tax profits slipped to £3.31m from £4.05m in 2019.

Plans to grow to 60 pharmacies

The strategic report along with the results said the two pharmacies acquired part-way through the year accounted for the increase in turnover, but it added that significant increases in NHS discount clawback, combined with rising staff costs and increased amortisation charges, had impacted on overall profitability.

Davidsons currently employs more than 400 people, but the total is anticipated to increase substantially in the next decade, as Mr Gordon expects the number of pharmacies to reach 60 – with a jump in staff numbers to around 700.

Wide range of services

Mr Gordon said that, even though there is a coronavirus lockdown in place, it is very much business as usual for community pharmacies.

He said: “We continue to provide daily healthcare services to our patients and customers.

“We have seen a large increase in requests for home deliveries of medicines during lockdown, and the Scottish Government is helping us by funding a three-month period of an expanded delivery service to those most in need.

“The new national services that came into effect in July last year now have firm foundations after an initial bedding-in period.

“The NHS Pharmacy First service is very successful and has proved popular with patients when they need advice or a treatment for a minor illness.

“Likewise, the NHS Pharmacy First Plus service is available from some community pharmacies where there is an independent prescriber (IP) pharmacist.

“At Davidsons Chemists, we have an increasing number of prescriber pharmacists across our group and they bring high-quality patient care to their communities.

“NHS Pharmacy First Plus aims to support patients with acute common clinical conditions to be advised and receive treatment within the pharmacy rather than be referred to another healthcare professional setting.

“The service utilises IP pharmacists’ competency in common clinical conditions to support shifting the balance of care into the community.”

Kind messages from community

Mr Gordon said the role of the community pharmacist has been vital and increasingly pivotal over the last year in ensuring patients are able to easily access healthcare advice and medicines when they need to.

He added: “I am pleased to say our pharmacies have been showered with mindful gifts and kind messages all year from well-wishing patients, and I know our staff are so proud and honoured to be appreciated in that way.”

Mr Gordon also revealed Davidsons is looking at new, innovative ways to help patients at this difficult time, such as trial 24/7 prescription pick-up points at some pharmacies.

The first Davidsons Chemists pharmacy was started in Blairgowrie in 1897.

Mr Gordon has now been with the group for 31 years. After qualifying as a chartered accountant in Edinburgh in 1990, he joined as company accountant later that year before becoming MD in the late 1990s.

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