Simplyhealth confirmed this morning that it is to close its store-based retail proposition, which will see 10 stores close immediately, including seven that are branded as The Unlimited Company as well as three that operate under the Independent Living and Collins Care brands.
The ten stores are located in Andover, Bristol, Bicester, Blackburn, Burnham, Droitwich, Leeds, Morton Park, Norwich and Radstock.
Five other stores that fall under the Care and Mobility banner will remain open while a possible sale of this part of the business is considered.
The Unlimited Company was established in 2016 and since then Simplyhealth said it has seen a shift in the requirements of customers and a wider availability of mobility products being provided by large general retailers and online providers which has “changed the future sustainability of the current proposition”.
Simplyhealth reviewed its business proposition in July after Raman Sankaran, chief commercial officer for the healthcare company, took over from managing director Matthew Main.
Last month Mr Sankaran revealed to AMP that The Unlimited Company would be curbing its original shop expansion plans and instead turning its attention to a service and advice proposition.
Under Mr Main the company embarked on a string of store openings which aimed to be well-designed shops offering a wide range of products, complemented by an online operation.
A total of 85 employees, (including those at Care and Mobility) will be affected and Simplyhealth said it will be supporting them individually and exploring the available options with them.
The Unlimited Company will fulfil all orders that have already been placed and will continue to support customers, initially contacting them over the coming days.
Romana Abdin, chief executive of Simplyhealth, explained that the decision is not the outcome she wanted when The Unlimited Company was created.
“It was a very difficult decision to make, not just taking into account the thousands of customers that we have helped but because our own people will be affected. However, we remain committed to ensuring that people who need help with mobility or caring get the best advice and products possible.”
“As someone with a disability myself I know there is a need for better support networks for people. Unfortunately it has become clear that physical shops are not a viable way forward for Simplyhealth and from a business viewpoint we have to ensure we look at better ways of providing people with the support they need.”
Meanwhile, Mr Sankaran commented: “We understand that health and care is one journey for customers and we will continue to focus on how best to meet their needs, both on our own, and by working with partners. Our new online eldercare guidance and advice proposition, Care for Life, which we launched as an employee benefit last week, is just one example of how we’re aiming to meet changing healthcare needs by being innovative and collaborative.”
Simplyhealth will continue to operate in the mobility space, exploring different ways to meet the growing demand for advice and guidance in the health and care markets. It has developed Simplyhealth Care for Life, an online service providing a wide range of guidance, from access to legal, financial, care at home and care home information to finding a trusted trader or localised support services and help groups close to home.