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Back to Business: Takeaways from the Pharmacy Show 2018

Another Pharmacy Show has come and gone at Birmingham's NEC. Beyond the chance to see the latest robots and hear talks on a range of regulatory issues, the most useful aspect of the show is the chance to hear from pharmacists and distinguish the issues that really are day to day concerns from the red herrings in the trade press.

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Christie & Co was at the centre of the trade floor for two busy days, discussing all things pharmacy with both existing operators and those hoping to acquire their first business. Our annual Curry Club dinner achieved its highest ever turnout with 72 guests sitting down to share insights and compare notes over some much-needed food and drink.

Following years of discussion about cuts, remuneration and high court appeals, the sector is back to focusing on operational issues. Pessimism and concern about the viability of community pharmacy under the new payment scheme seems to have been replaced with a 'back to business' vigour and focus on maximising income.

Looking forward into the year ahead, the Falsified Medicines Directive (FMD) was high on the list of priorities for operators. The timeframe in which suppliers need update their packaging to be compliant will lead to pharmacists running two separate systems, scanning the items that have new barcodes and dispensing those that don't as normal. Although implementation has become increasingly messy, help is on hand with the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) and LPCs offering workshops and resources to advise on the process. Regulatory challenges are nothing new to experienced pharmacists and many suggested this is just the latest hurdle to jump.

A consistent theme of previous years has been that lack of supply has created competition among buyers, leading to higher prices. Whilst this is no longer the case, as the volume of sites coming to market has increased, providing those ready to buy with more choice, competition, however, remains high as opportunities are met with ongoing high demand from first-time buyers and existing regional groups with an eye on expansion, both of which are backed by a funding landscape keen to lend in the sector. 

Relocating across the country is not a concern for many young pharmacists looking to buy, meaning an agent with a national reach, such as Christie & Co is essential for vendors hoping to achieve the best price. Christie & Co remains the largest specialist team of agents and valuers in the sector, and we are delighted to report that many recent sales across the UK have achieved over a dozen offers at the best and final deadline.

Events, like the Pharmacy Show bring together a diversity of exhibitors and attendees, including pharmacy owners, staff, specialists and suppliers, which allows us to accurately take the temperature of the sector. This year’s show highlighted that previous years' concerns over viability have given way to a renewed focus on efficiency, maximising services and the potential of new technology. 

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