Merseyside-based independent community pharmacy group RB Healthcare has entered a deal to buy 11 more sites in Manchester and Merseyside after receiving a £12.5 million funding package from Santander UK.

The company has added the new sites in a ‘one-off deal’, and the funding package comprises property loans, term debt, working capital and overdrafts.

The pharmacy has also switched its day-to-day banking to Santander UK.

The acquisition of 11 new pharmacies would significantly build on the group’s existing portfolio of three pharmacies, which are in the same area.

It also plans to grow its online pharmacy, Clear Chemist, with support from Santander UK’s funding.

Rishi Bhatia, RB Healthcare co-director, said: “Santander UK has an in-depth understanding of the healthcare sector, our business’ growth plans, and, crucially, our core values – all of which are essential qualities in a banking partner.  The funding structure that Santander UK has put in place has allowed us to start achieving our goals from the outset.

“Community pharmacies have been at the forefront of healthcare during the pandemic, and Santander UK is the ideal bank to be beginning our next chapter with.”

RB Healthcare was involved in England’s vaccination effort this year, vaccinating local residents after winning a number of Covid vaccination contracts with the government.

Andy Casey, head of medical at Santander UK, said: “We are delighted to support RB Healthcare’s major acquisition of 11 community pharmacies, and to bring it on board for all its day-to-day banking.

“The company is a well-known and much valued operator in the community pharmacy sector in the North West, and we look forward to helping it achieve its growth plans in coming months and years.”

Bhatia won the Pharmacy Business Community Pharmacy Heroes Award last year.

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