Boots the Chemists|
Boots Cash Chemists
|Founded||1849Nottingham, United Kingdom,|
|Headquarters||Beeston, Nottingham, United Kingdom|
|Elizabeth Fagan, Managing Director, Boots UK and ROI (since July 2016)|
No. 7, natural collection and Seventeen – Makeup|
Soltan – Sun cream
Almus – Generic drugs
Number of employees
Walgreens Boots Alliance|
Boots Opticians |
Boots Retail Ireland
Boots UK (formerly Boots the Chemists Ltd), trading as Boots, is a pharmacy chain in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Norway, Thailand and other territories. The parent company, The Boots Company Plc, merged with Alliance UniChem in 2006 to form Alliance Boots. In 2007, Alliance Boots was bought by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Stefano Pessina, taking the company private, and moving its headquarters to Switzerland, the first ever FTSE 100 company bought by a private equity firm. In 2012, Walgreens bought a 45% stake in Alliance Boots, with the option to buy the rest within three years. It exercised this option in 2014, and as a result Boots became a subsidiary of the new company, Walgreens Boots Alliance, on 31 December 2014.
The company operates over 2,500 shops across the United Kingdom and Ireland ranging from local pharmacies to large health and beauty shops. Their shops are primarily located on the high streets and in shopping centres. It sells many health and beauty products, and also provides optician and hearing care services within shops and as standalone practices. Boots also operates a retail website and runs a loyalty card programme called the Boots Advantage Card.
- 1 History
- 2 Products
- 3 Controversies
- 4 The Boots Charitable Trust
- 5 The Boots Estate
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 Further reading
- 9 External links
1849 to 2000
Boots was established in 1849, by John Boot. After his father's death in 1860, Jesse Boot, aged 10, helped his mother run the family's herbal medicine shop in Nottingham, which was incorporated as Boot and Co. Ltd in 1883, becoming Boots Pure Drug Company Ltd in 1888. In 1920, Jesse Boot sold the company to the American United Drug Company. However, because of deteriorating economic circumstances in North America Boots was sold back into British hands in 1933. The grandson of the founder, John Boot, who inherited the title Baron Trent from his father, headed the company. The Boots Pure Drug Company name was changed to The Boots Company Limited in 1971.
Between 1898 and 1966, many branches of Boots incorporated a lending library department, known as Boots Book-Lovers' Library.
Boots diversified into the research and manufacturing of drugs with its development of the Ibuprofen painkiller during the 1960s, invented by John Nicholson and Stewart Adams. The company was awarded the Queen's Award For Technical Achievement for this in 1987. A major research focus of Boots in the 1980s was the drug for congestive heart failure Manoplax.  The withdrawal from market of Manoplax due to safety concerns in 1993 caused major pressure from investors, and in 1994, Boots divested its prescription drugs division, which had become no longer viable, to BASF. In 2006, it sold the Nurofen brand to Reckitt Benckiser. The 2006 sale of Boots Healthcare International included everything made by Crookes Healthcare, based on the Nottingham site.
In 1968 Boots acquired the 622-strong Timothy Whites and Taylors Ltd chain. Boots expanded into Canada by purchasing the Tamblyn Drugs chain circa 1978. Most Canadian Boots shops were converted to Pharma Plus in 1989, although a handful of locations remained as late as 1993, if not later. In 1982, the company opened a new manufacturing plant in Cramlington, Northumberland. In the early 1990s, Boots began to diversify and bought Halfords, the bicycle and car parts business in 1991. It also developed the Children's World business but sold it in 1996 to Mothercare. Halfords was sold in 2002.
Boots Opticians Ltd was formed in 1987 with the acquisition of Clement Clarke Ltd and Curry and Paxton Ltd. Boots Opticians became the UK's second largest retail optics chain. In 2009 Boots Opticians acquired Dollond & Aitchison, an optician chain which was founded in 1750.
Boots diversified into dentistry in 1998, with a number of shops offering this service. Boots sold its Do-It-All home furnishings chain to Focus in 1998. Boots also made a venture into "Wellbeing" services offering customers treatments ranging from facials, homoeopathy, and nutritional advice to laser eye surgery and Botox but these services were abandoned in 2003, despite a launch that included a dedicated Freeview and Sky TV channel of the same name, and even redirecting web traffic from boots.com to wellbeing.com
2000 to present
In October 2005, a merger with Alliance UniChem was announced by the then chairman, Sir Nigel Rudd. The CEO Richard Baker left, and the new group became Alliance Boots plc. The merger became effective on 31 July 2006.
Alliance Boots was purchased by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Stefano Pessina, the deputy chairman of the company, in April 2007 for £11.1 billion, taking the company private and beating a rival bid from Guy Hands' Terra Firma Capital Partners. This was the first ever instance of a FTSE 100 company having been bought by a private equity firm. In June 2008, the group headquarters were moved to Zug, Switzerland. According to John Ralfe, Boots' former head of corporate finance, "the UK has lost about £100m a year in tax as result".
On 19 June 2012, it was announced that Walgreens, the United States' largest chemist chain, would purchase a 45% stake in Alliance Boots for US$6.7 billion. The deal was said to be a long term plan to give maximum exposure to both brands, Boots more so in the US and, Walgreens more so in the UK and in China through Boots' presence in that market. The deal gave the option to complete a full merger of the organisations within three years costing an extra $9.5bn. Walgreens confirmed on 6 August 2014 that it would purchase the remaining 55% and merge with Alliance Boots to form a new holding company, Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. Walgreens and Boots both become subsidiaries of the new company on 31 December 2014.
Boots sells medicines, health and beauty products. It has a food and drink range in the form of lunchtime meal deals.
Charging the NHS for carrying out unnecessary medicine reviews
In April 2016, the Pharmacists' Defence Association stated that company managers were exploiting the NHS by insisting that each outlet carry out medicine use reviews, even if patients didn’t need them. The NHS pays £28 per review up to a maximum of 400 per shop. The Guardian stated that the General Pharmaceutical Council was poised to investigate.
2016 reports of workplace pressure
At the same time as the article about medicines reviews, The Guardian published a longer report on the same day called 'How Boots went Rogue', which told the story from the eyes of a Boots pharmacist talking about working conditions at the company. It also covered the buyout of the company and the owners' financial approach. Four days later it published an articles with emails from pharmacists. Pharmacists had written about how "the chain allegedly compels staff to compromise ethics for targets". The article said "The letters editor believes this may be the largest haul of mail he has ever received about a single article. Others rang in." There were two further follow-up articles in the days following. The paper subsequently noted a letter purporting to be from an "independent pharmacist" criticising its stance on the issue which it identified as having been edited and amended by one of the firm's vice-presidents. The letter was emailed as a Word document and contained tracked changes.
BBC documentary and press coverage in 2018
On 8 January 2018, the BBC showed a documentary called "Boots: Pharmacists under Pressure?" about the deaths of three patients following dispensing errors. Separately, it also featured accounts from three whistleblowers, who alleged that there were staffing issues at the company. The BBC also published two articles on the same day.
A separate article almost three weeks later told the story of a patient who was given the wrong medicine in December 2017 by a "frazzled" pharmacist. The patient said there was clearly a staffing issue.
Supply of the "morning after pill"
In July 2017, the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) revealed that Boots was selling emergency contraceptive medication at four times the cost price and had refused requests to join rival pharmacy retail chains, including Superdrug and Tesco, which had agreed to cease profiting financially in this way. In a written response to BPAS, Boots revealed that they were frequently contacted by individuals who disapproved of the dispensing of such medication, which might be viewed as "incentivising inappropriate use", an assertion which campaigners described as "insulting and sexist". BPAS called on the public to boycott the company and email them requesting that they reverse the policy. Following the boycott's launch, lawyers representing Boots alleged that the online complaint form created by BPAS had resulted in a "torrent of abuse" to five of Boots' senior managers and that BPAS had facilitated and tacitly encouraged harassment by naming individual staff members on the form. In response, BPAS stated that Boots had "failed to provide any evidence of abuse sent through the campaign". In November 2017, more than 130 Labour politicians signed a letter criticising Boots' failure to fulfil its promise to stock a low-cost alternative in its shops by October. At the end of January 2018, Boots confirmed that it was now offering the cheaper medication in all of its pharmacies.
On 25 October 2017, a debate was held in the House of Commons about pharmacists' mental health and the support that employers give to employees. Much of the discussion focused on the suicide of a Boots pharmacist, Alison Stamps, in May 2015, and Boots' response was criticised. 
Overcharging the NHS for products
In February 2018, Boots was criticised for charging excessive prices for low-value products supplied to the NHS: in one case, it was found that the pharmacy was billing in excess of £1,500 for a moisturiser which normally retailed at less than £2. In May 2018, a further investigation by The Times found that on at least five occasions between 2013 and 2017, Boots had charged over £3,200 for a medicinal mouthwash used to treat mouth ulcers in chemotherapy patients, in comparison to an independent supplier which had charged the equivalent of £93 for the same product. The investigation found that Boots had ordered the product from Alliance Healthcare, a supplier owned by Boots' parent company. In response, a spokesman for Walgreens Boots Alliance rejected accusations of overcharging the NHS and claimed that the bespoke nature of the orders, often requested at short notice, results in the high cost.
The Boots Charitable Trust
The company funds the Boots Charitable Trust, which is an independent registered charity in the UK, administrated by Nottinghamshire Community Foundation. The trust was established in the early 1970s to fund registered charities benefiting people who live in Nottinghamshire.
The Boots Estate
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The Boots Estate, near the Nottingham suburb of Beeston, features a range of listed buildings. This includes the two principal factory buildings, D6 and D10, designed by Sir Owen Williams and built in 1932 and 1935–38 respectively. Both are Grade I listed. The former fire station, D34, is also by Williams and is Grade II listed. The headquarters office building known as D90 is Grade II* and was built to designs by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill in 1966–68. Staff have a restaurant, coffee and snack shops, newsagent, a branch of Boots the Chemist, an opticians branch and cash point situated within landscaped grounds. The grounds include the Millennium Garden, which features a herb garden (with some plants that Jesse used in his original herbal remedies) in the shape of a goose foot – harking back to Jesse's original shop on Goose Gate, Nottingham.
The Boots Museum is now closed; however, historical items are in storage or on display in the reception area of the D90 building.
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- Memorandum and Articles of Association[dead link] Reprint with all current amendments as at 26 July 2001
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- And it's all thanks to a passion for a penny-farthing bicycle The Times
- Boots in Childrenswear pact to sell Adams range The Telegraph
- Boots sells Halfords The Guardian
- "Boots to launch dental clinics". BBC News. 10 September 1998.
- Gilleo, Ken. "Boots decides that for £68m Focus can do-it-all".
- Boots ditches well being strategy The Independent
- Optical Express buys Boots laser business Optician Online
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- Chakrabortty, Aditya (17 April 2016). "Boots could face regulator's investigation after Guardian report". Guardian newspapers. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
- "'How Boots went Rogue'". The Guardian. 13 April 2016.
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- "New Boots boss offers chance to change". Guardian newspapers. 9 June 2016.
- "Boots: Pharmacists under Pressure?". The BBC. 8 January 2018.
- "Some Boots pharmacists claim they are at 'breaking point'". The BBC. 8 January 2018.
- "Boots pharmacists raise staffing concerns". The BBC. 8 January 2018.
- "'Frazzled' Boots pharmacist mixed up patient's pills". The BBC. 27 January 2018.
- "Just Say Non". British Pregnancy Advisory Service website. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
- Bates, Laura (20 July 2017). "Boots is charging women high rates for the morning after pill because they think we might use it 'inappropriately' if it's cheap". The Independent.
- "Boots faces morning-after pill cost row". BBC News. 21 July 2017.
- Slawson, Nicola (20 July 2017). "Boots faces boycott over refusal to lower cost of morning-after pill". The Guardian.
- "Boots staff 'harassed' by morning-after pill campaigners". BBC News. 1 September 2017.
- "Boots 'breaking' morning-after pill promise, say Labour MPs". BBC News. 16 November 2017.
- "Boots rolls out cheaper morning-after pill across UK". BBC News. 29 January 2018.
- "Mental Health: Pharmacists - House of Commons Debate". 25 October 2017.
- Morgan-Bentley, Paul (2 February 2018). "NHS forced to pay £1,500 for £2 pot of moisturiser". The Times.(subscription required)
- Morgan-Bentley, Paul; Kenber, Billy (25 May 2018). "Boots faces inquiry over cancer drug price hike". The Times.(subscription required)
- "Boots owner denies overcharging NHS for cancer mouthwash". BBC News. 25 May 2018.
- "Charitable giving". Boots UK. 2012. Retrieved 17 September 2012.
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- "Building D10 at Boots Factory Site". Historic England. Retrieved 6 February 2018.
- "BOOTS D90 WEST HEADQUARTERS BUILDING". Historic England. Retrieved 6 February 2018.
- Roberts, Cecil (1966) Achievement: a record of fifty years' progress of Boots Pure Drug Company Ltd London: Boots Pure Drug Company Ltd
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