When your exit doesn’t go to plan…

In July 2020 we announced our decision to exit pharmacy ownership, in a series of transactions that were intended to complete before Icon Group, which provided the management services to our pharmacies, underwent its next ownership transition

For a variety of reasons not all of the pharmacy transactions had completed by the time Icon was acquired by EQT in a transaction that settled on March 31st 2022, and also saw Stuart and I sell our final ownership stake in Icon Group

At that time we still had strong hope that the pharmacy transactions would complete as originally planned, allowing us to continue with our plans for life after nearly 3 decades in the healthcare industry. Unfortunately it soon became clear that the remaining pharmacy transactions were not going to be completed as planned.

We continued to work with the same Icon executives we had worked alongside for years to try and identify an alternate pathway, but by September it became clear that we had very different views around what was viable and we were left with no option but to embrace the reality that while we were no longer Icon shareholders, we were very definitely still pharmacy owners

Once we communicated this publicly, we unfortunately saw a very rapid deterioration in our relationship with Icon Group and its new owners.  Whilst we weren’t naïve enough to think that they were going to be happy with us sticking around – when founders make the decision that it’s time to go there’s always a myriad of reasons behind that! – but we certainly weren’t expecting the actions that followed

Long term relationships quickly shifted from collaborative conversations to a bombardment of legal letters, while we continued to propose and work through possible resolutions.   We wanted to believe that a way forward existed that gave us the exit that we had originally planned, and the departure that some within Icon clearly desired!

Unfortunately it became clear that there was no interest in any of the resolutions we were proposing, and any suggestions we were getting in return had no viable commercial basis to their construct.  

Stuart and I are incredibly proud of the legacy and impact we’ve created at Icon and Epic, and the last thing we wanted was to see that damaged or destroyed, or even worse create any kind of negative impact for patients or the wonderful teams of people who provide their care.

As such, we’ve kept these matters under wraps over the past months in the hope that a resolution could be reached.  We were always going to be left with a very different feeling about the business that we’d built over the past 25+ years, firstly in the pharmacy sector and then, post our partnership with the original HOCA doctors in 2012, in wider cancer care service provision, but our hope was that the disintegration of our carefully planned exit was largely going to have happened behind closed doors.

Unfortunately we now find ourselves in a different position, with Icon filing suit against us in the Supreme Court in February, which is now a matter of public record.

We believe the action is a direct consequence of the failed negotiations to complete the original planned pharmacy exit and we will be defending both this matter and any additional actions Icon may or may not bring against us vigorously.

We couldn’t be more disappointed with where this is now sitting , as we now prepare to face off in court against people who were not only colleagues but previously viewed as trusted friends.

It’s fair to say we’ve been living a reality where ‘Instagram isn’t real life’ for some time now, but that’s been a conscious choice to focus on the many positives that still exist in our lives rather than the one pretty sizeable negative – and we intend to do the same thing going forward.  One of the great lessons that working in healthcare and cancer care in particular provides is the importance of living in the moment and making the most of the good times, because you truly never know what is around the corner.

Don’t get me wrong, it does hurt and there have been plenty of sleepless nights – for me anyway, nothing ever stops Stuart from sleeping! – as we’ve worked through a myriad of what ifs and if only’s, but we have our health, each other and our kids, and a great group of people around us and we’ve survived hard things before and we will survive this too.

Please understand that given the legal activities underway we are very restricted in what we can and can’t say, but we couldn’t sit back and be named in a Supreme Court action without providing some context around how we’d found ourselves there, and confirming our intention to vigorously defend ourselves and our reputation.

We’re ready for Arc(31) to Triomphe
Older Story:

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