The Co-op Group is set to re-enter the pharmacy market. Co-op has struck a deal to acquire Dimec, an NHS-approved digital platform enabling consumers and pharmacists to manage repeat prescriptions.
The digital platform was founded by two pharmacists, Andrew Bailey and Chris Turner, in 2013, and now has relationships with all 12,000 pharmacies in England.
Dimec has been acquired for an undisclosed sum by Co-op Ventures, the new innovation unit established to develop challenger Co-op businesses and designed to disrupt markets in which the Co-op does not currently operate. It is the first acquisition by Ventures and a clear statement of intent to develop new and innovative customer solutions in the health sector.
The acquisition will enable The Co-op to compete effectively within the £10.5 billion pharmacy market, where over 1.1 billion prescriptions are written annually in England alone. Already 29 million people in the UK receive a regular repeat prescription and this number is forecast to grow significantly in the years ahead, driven by an ageing population and access to effective medicines.
The technology Dimec has developed enables patients to pair with both GP surgeries and pharmacies, allowing the patient to connect with their GP records and making the ordering of prescriptions easier. This combined with the strength of The Co-op name and its large physical presence across the UK will create a comprehensive and compelling digital pharmacy offer for Co-op members and customers alike.
As part of the transaction, the co-founders of Dimec will work with the Co-op Ventures team. In addition, a number of new jobs will be created in digital, operational and clinical roles. These will be located in Manchester and the Co-op’s distribution centre at Lea Green in Merseyside.
Tim Davies, Director of Co-op Ventures, said:
“The acquisition of Dimec allows us to accelerate the development of our healthcare proposition and provides the technology required to ensure customers can interact with their NHS GP more conveniently. The clear focus for our Ventures team is to target markets where there are unmet customer needs and where our Co-op difference adds real value using innovative digital business models. We’ll do it with a brand that we know people trust.
“Our healthcare offer will be designed for convenience and to meet the increasingly complex health and wellbeing needs of people as they live longer. The acquisition of Dimec is a core element in delivering this ambition and we’ll be providing more detail early next year in terms of our of wider customer offer.”