An award-winning pharmacy group which delivers a comprehensive range of healthcare services in Yorkshire has expanded its portfolio thanks to seven-figure funding from Unity Trust Bank.

Ashley and Nikki Cohen, who set up Pharm-Assist in 2006 and now employ more than 60 staff, have used the refinance loan to take sole ownership of The Priory Pharmacy in Cornlands Road, York, which they previously managed in a joint venture with GPs.

The couple own pharmacies in Seacroft and Halton in Leeds and have NHS and private contracts to provide pharmaceutical support to establishments such as care homes, hospices and a young offenders institute.

And this year, following a unique partnership with Matalan, they enabled 85,000 people to get their Covid vaccinations by creating a pioneering pop-up at the chain’s 3 stores in Leeds, along side 2 other stand alone vaccination clinics across Leeds and York.

Michael Wicks, relationship manager at Unity Trust Bank, said: “As a bank that is committed to supporting frontline healthcare operators, we are delighted to assist Ashley and Nikki in their latest acquisition.

“Pharm-Assist provides an impressive package of services in local communities which help some of the most vulnerable members of society and reduce the pressure on GP practices.”

Priory Medical Centre is a nine-site GP practice and Primary Care Network (PCN) and became one of the first pharmacies in York to open 100-hours per week.

Ashley said: “Our GP partners decided to sell their pharmacy shares but when I approached my previous bank about buying The Priory Pharmacy they put the figures through credit control and the computer said ‘no’.

“That’s when I approached Unity Trust Bank because they have a real appetite for supporting the pharmacy sector.

“When I met Michael Wicks I found him genuinely refreshing. He was human, and the fact that he understood our business and what we were trying to achieve was so important.

“Relationships are what’s important in business and I had a gut feeling that I could have a good relationship with Michael. He gave me the answers I wanted to hear and Unity have been very flexible which is great.”

Ashley, who spent his early career as a pharmaceutical consultant and director, added: “I’m a qualified pharmacist but I’ve always been business minded.

“After working in the NHS and commercial healthcare sector I wanted to create a pharmaceutical company that provided something different.

“Pharm-Assist has become a bit of hub and as well as supplying medication, our staff carry out clinical work for clients and provide training, advice and support.”