Pharmacy merger and acquisitions (M&A) transactions in the UK have increased by 26% to 408 in the last year, jumping from 325 the year before according to national accountancy group UHY Hacker Young.

According to UHY Hacker Young, pharmacies were one of a few sectors that saw a boost in customer demand during the pandemic, with sales of PPE and COVID-19 testing creating whole new business lines for pharmacies.

In addition, there has been an increased desire among pharmacies to acquire small operators, as well as buyers outside of the sector seeing pharmacies as more attractive targets.

Both regional and national pharmacy groups have been making acquisitions, including first time buyers, said UHY Hacker Young.

The group added that private equity buyers have also shown increased interest in the sector.

“Pharmacies are one of the few industries to have benefited from the pandemic – this has been reflected in the sector’s healthy M&A activity,” said John Ierston, partner at UHY Hacker Young.

“Mergers and acquisitions remain the quickest way for pharmacies to expand their portfolio of both high street and health-centre locations,” he added.