Our client operated two pharmacies in the same town. One was a standard hours pharmacy in the town centre and the other was a 100 hour pharmacy in a local medical centre. High operating costs meant that the 100 hour pharmacy was no longer viable and the 40 hour pharmacy was not busy either. Our client was considering closing down one or both pharmacies and asked for some advice. Instead of closing we recommended trying to relocate the 40 hour pharmacy to the medical centre and submitting a closure notice for the 100 hour pharmacy only.
These types of applications have become fairly commonplace in recent years, but this one was a bit different. There is a regulation that prevents the NHS grating permission for two pharmacies owned by the same company (or even closely connected) from having permission to operate from the same premises even if they have no intention of doing so.
The only option our client had was to submit a closure notice for the 100 hour pharmacy and also submit their relocation application for the 40 hour pharmacy and then ask the NHS not to consider their relocation until the 100 hour pharmacy had closed its doors.
This is a high risk strategy. The medical centre pharmacy had to close and there was no way to re-open that pharmacy if the relocation was refused.
We represented our client in all aspects of the process and were able to time the closure of the 100 hour pharmacy and the NHS consideration of the relocation so that there was only a few weeks when there was no pharmacy trading at the medical centre. We were also able to get the relocation approved without any appeal.
Our client now has one standard hours pharmacy inside the medical centre and is negotiating for better lease terms to further improve their position. Their financial position is already considerably better than it was.
If you are considering a proposal like this then it is vital to take advice at an early stage.