Mixed trading fortunes for Medicare pharmacy owners Magir

Gary McDonald Business Editor

THE parent company of the Medicare pharmacy chain in the north saw its turnover and employee numbers increase in the year to last August.

But operating profits at the Magir Group, which operates 53 pharmacies, dropped from £10.4m to £3.5m, according to figures filed at Companies House.

The company, founded in 1988 by pharmacist Michael Guerin, is the biggest of Northern Ireland's home-pharmacy chains, and is headquartered at Montgomery Road in east Belfast.

According to its accounts, Magir's turnover was up slightly from £76m to £76.7m, and with its cost of sales largely similar to the previous 12 months at £54.4m, its gross profit in 2015 came in at £22.3m.

While down two thirds, it was set against an operating profit in 2014 which had been boosted by an exceptional gain of £7.5m as the result of "debt forgiveness on refinancing" - effectively a pay-back from its bankers.

Magir's bottom-line profit for the financial year was just £207,686, the figures reveal.

The directors, however, say they are "satisfied" with the performance of the group and say they expect the level of activity to continue for the foreseeable future.

Employee numbers, according to the report, jumped from 504 to 517, which pushed up Magir's overall wages bill to £10.2 million.

Of its creditors falling due within a year, Magir has bank loans of more than £7 million.

And falling due after more than a year are bank loans of £36.6m, the report shows.

While Michael Guerin controls 74 per cent of the Magir's share capital, others to have an interest in the group are medicine distribution giant Sangers.

It delivers around 100,000 pharmaceutical products a day to high street chemists across the north and made operating profits of more than £4.3 million in Northern Ireland in the year to September.

Sangers's owners UDG Healthcare in Dublin subsequently sold the company's drug distribution units to Fortune 500 firm McKesson, the San Francisco company that owns Lloyds Pharmacy, for more than £300 million.

Sangers, which has been supplying pharmaceutical and healthcare products to retail and hospital pharmacies in Northern Ireland for 150 years, trades through four different divisions, each with a specific product and customer framework.

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