• CMA gives ’conditional’ green light to deal 
  • LloydsPharmacy must sell stores in 12 areas of England and Wales to allay competition concerns
  • Celesio-owned business aiming to acquire 277 Sainsbury’s pharmacies

LloydsPharmacy’s deal to buy Sainsbury’s pharmacy unit has had the go-ahead from competition authorities, but it must still sell some stores.

The Competition and Markets Authority said it has given a ‘conditional’ green light to the deal, but LloydsPharmacy must sell pharmacies in 12 areas to satisfy competition concerns.

The CMA had said in April that the Celesio-owned business would have to sell pharmacies in 13 areas of England and Wales, as it seeks to acquire Sainsbury’s 277 pharmacies.

The body said today the areas had been identified where the two firms pharmacies are “such close competitors that the merger may be expected to lead to a substantial lessening of competition”.

Celesio will not be allowed to close the stores it has to sell, the CMA said.

Simon Polito, chair of the CMA’s inquiry, said: “In those areas where a Sainsbury’s pharmacy is currently a strong competitor, under common ownership Lloyds might be able to reduce service quality to increase profits without being concerned about losing customers to a rival.

“By selling the LloydsPharmacy in those areas to a new owner with the relevant expertise and the incentive to attract customers through its service quality, we can ensure that customers do not lose out from this deal.”

The 12 areas are: Beaconsfield, Bracknell, Cardiff, Christchurch, Kempston, Kidlington, Leeds, Liverpool, Luton, Reading/Theale, the Sandy/Potton/Biggleswade area and Warlingham.