Cut-throat competition. Narrow margins. Stifling government regulation. Enough to put some out of business. But not Pathvalley. Owned and run by Bolton brothers Anwar Ibrahim and Yakub Ibrahim Patel, the company operates a growing number of retail pharmacies, mostly in the north-west of England and in Yorkshire. In 2008, turnover reached £12.6m – a massive leap from sales of £463,500 in 2005. Margins are extremely tight in this fiercely competitive sector: before tax, profits at Pathvalley were only £970,312; and the Patel brothers had to dip into their own pockets to lend the company £8.7m in order to fund the recent purchase of Wrights Chemists. To cope with the pressure on margins and counteract any fallout from the government’s decision to reduce the price at which the dispensation of “Category M” generic drugs are reimbursed, Pathvalley plans to make all other aspects of the business as effective and lucrative as possible.

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