The online pharmacist has hired bankers after seeing sales surge during the pandemic, according to Sky News reports

An online chemist which has become the NHS’s biggest repeat prescription service is plotting a sale that could reap handsome gains for its private equity backer.

Sky News has learnt that Pharmacy2U, which was established in 1999, has engaged bankers at Lazard to explore strategic options for the business.

City sources said this was likely to lead to a sale to a new private equity backer, although other alternatives are expected to be considered.

Pharmacy2U sold a big stake to G-Square Capital in 2018 in return for a £40m investment, while the Business Growth Fund – which is backed by Britain’s major high street banks – invested £17m in the business in 2016.

According to accounts filed at Companies House, Pharmacy2U has been a big beneficiary of  the pandemic, seeing the number of NHS-nominated patients increase to 553,000 from 441,000 just six months earlier.

Its rapid growth on 2019’s performance fuelled a 29% surge in revenue to £78.3m during the year to March 2020.