Opportunities and challenges facing the pharmacy industry

Opportunities and challenges facing the pharmacy industry

We interviewed Seb Miles, Managing Director of Woodsford RxBridge, to discuss the new challenges facing the pharmacy industry.  He shares how a we have adapted our finance solution to better suit the needs of the sector.

What are the new challenges facing the pharmacy industry?


One of the main challenges in pharmacy has been operational. Re-organising the space to accommodate the safety of staff and patients has been a primary concern. Pharmacies have also had to adapt their mode of operating, particularly where they are delivering more prescriptions, as opposed to servicing those prescriptions directly to patients in the pharmacy. They’ve seen that change progressively over the past six months and that will continue into the winter and in all likelihood beyond.

There is an expectation that pharmacy work will become more service-focused over the next few months, where they will be providing services such as flu vaccinations and hopefully COVID vaccinations as well.

So there are operational changes and challenges that they’ve had to adapt to in the last few months, but there are also the monetary implications of that. There will be additional costs, whether it be PPE equipment or plastic screening, that they have had to absorb. They also need to consider what the strategic landscape for pharmacy looks like over the next 6-12 months to 2 years.


What do pharmacies need to be preparing for next?


At the risk of sounding a bit sensationalist, it is the second wave. That is what these businesses are having to prepare for, whether that comes or not. That will mean ensuring pharmacies have both the staff and also provision of emergency staff coverage.

They will have to prepare for a second lockdown in some capacity, which could mean increased delivery services. Mostly, it will be a continuation of what they have done for the last 6 months, building on those learnings and better preparing themselves for what might be in store this winter. More specifically, it is around the flu jabs, and hopefully, as we come through the winter, a vaccine against COVID will become available.


What opportunities can a Woodford RxBridge funding solution provide pharmacies?


The facility is most relevant for those who are not looking to use the loan to cover a drop in revenue or a fall in profits, but are looking to invest in a post-COVID pharmacy environment. That could be automation in their business, such as dispensing robots, which frees up both dispensers and pharmacists time for more patient focus. Or it could be reconfiguring their space, making it more clinical or qualifying as a healthy living pharmacy. All of these things invest in the long-term business rather than just bridging a drop in revenue or profit.


What developments have Woodsford RxBridge made to their products to best support the pharmacy industry?


The short answer is that we have been able to increase the quantum of our funding and its flexibility to both our existing and prospective clients.

The long answer is slightly more complicated. We’ve got a huge body of data that we’ve built over the five years that we have been trading and the board has 40+ years of experience in funding pharmacy businesses. We’ve been able to nurture that to identify where we can lend more to certain businesses, based on both their trading performance as a pharmacy as well as the businesses performance and profitability. Leveraging off that data and our knowledge, we provide the best solution for pharmacy businesses.


How does Woodsford RxBridge continue to provide the best financial solution for pharmacies?


We have recently expanded our funding parameters from funding 2 months of NHS receivables to up to 3.5x monthly NHS receivables. This is predicated on how we can understand what the future cash flow of that business looks like.

We have been able to comfortably offer that based on the performances of those businesses and various other criteria that we assess when arriving at a credit decision. This extends to both the working capital solutions and CBILS loans.


What expertise does Woodsford RxBridge offer pharmacy businesses?


Where we can add value to our clients is through our knowledge and experience of funding the sector over many years. We can draw on our client’s experiences through the pandemic and share how they have been able to adapt their businesses. We can look at what has been the impact on margin, stock supply or provision of services, whether that be delivery or within the pharmacy.

Being able to share those client experiences adds tremendous benefit. We deal directly with our clients and so we are also able to really empathise with the challenges that businesses may face.  The majority of funders won’t be able to provide that level of service to their clients.

For more information on a working capital facility for pharmacies, get in touch with one of our experts.

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