Complex Transactions – A study of the Strahan Pharmacy sale

Pictured here is Strahan Pharmacy in Tasmania, and inset is previous owner Jules Fletcher and her then Pharmacist Jake.

Jules Fletcher was battling extremely difficult circumstances when she contacted me in early 2022.  

Her husband, Mark, had passed away suddenly from a stroke in 2021.  

Mark was the registered pharmacist and owner of Strahan Pharmacy, the business they established and developed together over 11 years.  

Although Jules is an experienced pharmacy assistant, she is not a pharmacist herself, and pharmacy ownership laws dictated that she had to sell the business within a year, or it would be shut down. 

In the interim, while she was grieving, she had to operate the pharmacy without Mark and maintain the vital care that the pharmacy provided to the community.   

Finding pharmacists to work at the store proved to be a full-time job in itself. A pharmacist shortage across the country meant that it was becoming increasingly hard (and expensive) to fill jobs in major cities, let alone in an isolated town on the rugged West Coast of Tasmania. 

I remember visiting Strahan on a Tassie road trip many years ago. It felt like an old-timey fishing village out of a storybook. It was picturesque, quiet, and peaceful. Despite a few more tourists coming though, not much has changed since. 

The tightknit community that Jules served so well over the years rallied around her and she took on the challenges in front of her. 

When she reached out to ask if I could help her sell the business, Jules had already tried selling it herself and then through another broker, with no luck.  

Jules’s warm personality and sense of humour shone through in our first conversation. I was particularly intrigued by her stories of competitive pool tournaments and the lively parties she attended. She was a character, and I was eager to help as best I could.  

We prepared the business for market quickly and launched the listing on our website. With the clock ticking on the TAS Pharmacy Authority’s sale deadline, there was a heightened sense of pressure on the campaign.  

It took a few weeks, but we found a buyer and agreed to terms. Meanwhile, Jules managed to find some semi-permeant staff that she is forever grateful for. Pharmacist Jake, and shop assistants Jane, Miffy and Leanne were vital in keeping the pharmacy open throughout the sale process.  

Everything was going well, until the purchaser used a “site visit clause” in their Offer to exit the deal unless Jules agreed to a reduced sale price.  

Thankfully, another party had emerged, and they were keen to take on the deal at the initial sale price.  

So, we had a new buyer, but we had to start the settlement process again. Time was now very much against us.  

Following some unforeseen delays on the way to settlement, we had to apply for multiple extensions from the TAS Pharmacy Authority, noting that we were close to finalizing the change of ownership.  

Much to our relief, those extensions were granted, and we eventually reached settlement on February 21 this year. All’s well that ends well, as they say. 

Jules is now living on the Gold Coast, close to her kids and grandkids. She is enjoying the warmer climate and she’s still an avid pool player. Life has thrown up new challenges, but she is facing them with her trademark optimism and good humour.  

Strahan Pharmacy’s young new owner-operator, Sam Skellern, and his wife Zoe are embedding themselves in the community and continuing the pharmacy’s legacy of community healthcare with a personal touch.  

Although Strahan Pharmacy wasn’t the most high-profile or high-value transaction of my career, it was certainly one of the most satisfying. It felt great to help Jules through a difficult time and on to the next chapter of her life, and I know the pharmacy is in good hands with Sam.  

We at AP Group wish Jules and Sam all the very best for the future. 

Written by Will Brown, Vic & TAS Sales Manager – AP Group 

AP Group are the leading pharmacy experts in Australia, helping hundreds of pharmacists into ownership every year – our team can help with sourcing finance for your purchase, as well as providing the right legal advice to help you navigate the process. 

We connect existing pharmacy owners with over 5000 ready and eager investors via our cutting-edge online Data Room. Our Data Room keeps confidential listing data secure and allows buyers to make informed decisions on each of our pharmacies for sale.  

About the Author:

Will Brown always seems to bring a good mood to the AP Group office. So, perhaps it’s no surprise he’s so positive and pro-active at helping clients with buying, selling, and negotiating pharmacy transactions. In more recent years, he’s added lease negotiations to his offerings, complementing his genuine love for helping pharmacists achieve their goals. 

Will understands that pharmacy sales is all about people. Luckily for him, he’s been described as approachable, transparent, reliable and responsive. In his early career, he worked as an English Teacher and Journalist, giving him exceptional communication skills and the ability to present data in its most clear and meaningful form. An asset to negotiations and the AP Group team!

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