Bestway is reportedly the favourite to acquire The Co-operative Group’s pharmacy chain in a £600m deal.

The cash & carry giant has submitted the highest bid for The Co-operative Pharmacy and could be named as the preferred bidder within the next few days, according to The Sunday Times.

The Co-op Group revealed in February this year it was exploring options for the future of its pharmacy chain, which “could include the sale in whole or part of the business”.

The Co-op Pharmacy is the UK’s third-largest pharmacy chain in the UK, with 744 branches.

It reported a 17.9% increase in operating profit to £33m on sales down 0.5% to £760m in the year to 4 January 2014.

Bestway is the UK’s second-biggest wholesaler. It also has interests in banking and cement in Pakistan.

A Co-op Group spokesman said the sale process was “going really well”, adding that the society was confident a deal would be completed “some time this year”.