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Cohens buys Assura pharmacies in multi-million pound deal

Pharmacy chain Cohens Group, which is headquartered in Bolton, has bought Assura Group’s pharmacy division in a deal worth £39.3 million.

The deal increases the size of the Cohens chain, owned by brothers Anwar and Yakub Patel, to 150.

Chief executive of Warrington-based Assura Nigel Rawlings said the sale of the pharmacies had raised capital that would be invested in more property.

He added, “Over the last 12 months in particular we have done a lot of hard work on the pharmacy business, including improving our buying terms and refurbishments, which gave us the opportunity to sell for a good price and give good value for shareholders.

“Had we sold previously, we would not have benefited in the same way.

“Cohens is an excellent home for our pharmacies and are far preferable to selling to a private equity investor."

It has been reported that under the terms of the deal Assura will receive £24.5 million in cash, a deferred cash consideration of £7.8 million (which will be paid as developments are completed) and a vendor loan note of £7 million repayable over three years.

Assura's 36-shop pharmacy business achieved a pre-tax profit of £2.6 million on turnover of £34.1 million in the year to 31 March 2011.

Meanwhile the Patel brothers' Gorgemead vehicle, which owns the Cohens Group, last year turned over £86.9 million, generating a pre-tax profit of 4.7 million.

The brothers previously built the companies Primelight and Levelcrown, which operated 111 pharmacies - mostly trading as Cohens Chemists, which they sold to Lloyds Pharmacy in 2005 for £130 million.

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