East Midlands firms advise on pharmacy deal

WR Evans (Chemist) Limited, the leading independent chain of pharmacies in the East Midlands, has been acquired by PCT Healthcare in a deal structured and advised by experts across the East Midlands.

WR Evans was started by Ann and Bill Evans in 1959 and has grown to become the largest independent community pharmacy group in the East Midlands, operating 64 branches across under the Manor Pharmacy and Cox and Robinson brands. In addition it also has a strong online presence operating the Vet-Medic and Travelpharm brands.

Shortly after the sale to PCT, and subject to regulatory approval, it is intended that 10 of the WR Evans branches will be transferred to a new company owned and operated by David Evans, and these branches will continue to operate under the Manor Pharmacy name.

PCT Healthcare provides community based pharmacy services and following the acquisition becomes the third largest independent pharmacy chain in the UK. The Group is headquartered in Chesterfield, with pharmacies across Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and the North West. The enlarged Group will continue to operate its shops under the Peak Pharmacy, Tims and Parker, Manor Pharmacy and Cox and Robinson branding and employs over 1,400 people.

Corporate finance, tax and legal advice was provided to PCT Healthcare by business advisory firm BDO LLP and its lawyers Browne Jacobson. Funding was provided by Royal Bank of Scotland Plc, with Shoosmiths advising the bank on legal aspects of the transaction.

The shareholders of WR Evans (Chemist) Limited were advised on the sale from both a corporate finance and tax perspective by the Nottingham office of Deloitte, with legal advice from Eversheds. Springboard Corporate Finance also advised David Evans in relation to the 10 stores he will retain separately.

Ann Evans, principal shareholder of WR Evans (Chemist) Limited, said: “Having owned the company for more than 57 years the family felt it was time to enable WR Evans to move forward whilst remaining part of a substantial independent group. I have known Peter Cattee for a many years and our businesses share a similar ethos.  I believe that PCT will provide a good home for the business and equally good opportunities for all of our staff. I am delighted that the Manor and Cox and Robinson brands will continue to be able to provide an exemplary service to their respective communities.”

Peter Cattee, Chief Executive Officer of PCT Healthcare, said: “This was a transformational acquisition opportunity for the Group and hence it was really important to me that we appointed advisers and a funder that understood our business and were hungry to get the deal done.

“There were many twists and turns on the way, with the efforts of teams at BDO and Browne Jacobson integral to getting the transaction completed. RBS have been our bank since inception and have always delivered, including a significant increase in facilities to support this acquisition.  In my view, they all went over and above what was expected and without them; I don’t think we would have the successful outcome we did.”

John Bryant, Head of M&A at BDO LLP in the East Midlands, who acted for the acquirer PCT Healthcare, says: “It was a great opportunity and privilege for us all at BDO to work with Peter and his fellow shareholders on this exciting acquisition which has now created the third largest independent pharmacy chain in the UK. It certainly wasn’t a straight forward deal but that made it all the more exciting and challenging, and a great outcome for all in the end.”

David Jones, Partner at Deloitte, who acted for the Shareholders of WR Evans (Chemist) Limited on the transaction, said: “Deloitte has acted as auditors and tax advisors to WR Evans (Chemist) Limited for a number of years now.  It was important that we continued our track record of providing the very best service and support to the Evans family as they embarked on the journey of finding the right home for their family business. PCT Healthcare was that home, creating a significant independent pharmacy group.”