June 26, 2022

Loblaw Cos. Ltd. is shopping for well being clinic proprietor Lifemark Well being Group for $845-million, the corporate’s largest deal but to develop its presence within the healthcare companies market.

Lifemark, which is owned by Audax Personal Fairness, has greater than 300 clinics throughout the nation offering companies together with physiotherapy and chiropractic remedies, therapeutic massage remedy, occupational remedy and psychological well being care.

The acquisition is a component of a bigger technique for Loblaw, which owns the Consumers Drug Mart pharmacy chain.

“Consumers over the previous couple of years has been actually focusing extra on turning into a healthcare companies firm, with the position of pharmacists altering,” Consumers president Jeff Leger mentioned in an interview on Monday. “We noticed that explode through the pandemic with vaccination, testing, but in addition serving to Canadians who didn’t have entry to care throughout that time period. … We actually view ourselves as greater than a pharmacy.”

The corporate has lately been investing in different companies in a bid to personal a bigger piece of the Canadian healthcare market.

For instance, Consumers Drug Mart has experimented with providing companies equivalent to beauty dentistry and dermatology in some places, and up to now two years, the corporate has opened six clinics in Ontario beneath the Well being Clinic by Consumers model. In 2016, Loblaw acquired software program agency QHR Corp., which provides digital medical record-keeping for docs, for roughly $170-million. In 2020, the corporate invested $75-million for a minority stake in telemedicine supplier Maple Corp., a Toronto startup that noticed demand spike for its on-line medical companies through the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Loblaw’s controlling shareholders, the Weston household, have participated in two financing rounds for Canadian digital well being startup League Inc., in 2018 and 2019, by way of their non-public holding firm Wittington Investments. And in 2020, Loblaw partnered with League to construct its PC Well being app, which gives companies to customers equivalent to dwell chats with registered nurses and “care navigators” offering healthcare referrals. The retailer additionally tied its PC Optimum loyalty program to the brand new app, providing factors for purchasers who used it to finish health challenges, or who bought well being and wellness-related objects equivalent to nutritional vitamins and thermometers.

Mr. Leger mentioned there was “good utilization” of the app to date, however didn’t disclose person numbers. He mentioned the corporate has seen curiosity in navigating entry to healthcare with digital instruments. Lifemark was one of many firm’s first associate clinics that allowed appointment reserving by way of the PC Well being app.

“We predict there’s a very fascinating hyperlink there with the purchasers we’re seeing on the pharmacy facet,” he mentioned.

For instance, pharmacists see many shoppers who’re managing points with each persistent and acute ache, both with over-the-counter or pharmaceuticals.

“However we all know that typically the restoration course of can or ought to require some physiotherapy – I simply had some expertise with this final summer time, with a motorbike crash,” Mr. Leger mentioned. “There’s a capability for individuals to get recommendation from the pharmacy facet on utilizing drugs, but in addition perhaps transition to companies from physio or a kinesiologist.”

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The deal is topic to regulatory approvals, and the corporate expects it to shut within the second quarter of this 12 months.

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