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Boots owner highlights new strategic direction for 2022

Walgreens Boots Alliance declined to comment on speculation that it was considering selling its Boots business in the UK but has confirmed its “renewed priorities” for 2022

boots pharmacy
Boots

Reports have suggested that the owners of Boots could be exploring options to sell the business next year.

According to Sky News, Walgreens Boots Alliance, which is behind the High Street chemist chain, with an optometry arm, is seeking advice from Goldman Sachs on options for the business. Sources referenced in the article said that the process would only be exploratory and might not lead to a sale, while separating the business into its own listed company could be another possibility. 

As of the end of August there were 2336 stores in the Boots chain in the UK, employing 52,000 people.

In a statement shared with OT, the Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) said it “does not comment on market speculation,” however, the company shared: “It is accurate that WBA announced a renewed set of priorities and strategic direction for the group in October, which includes a more pointed focus on North America and on healthcare.”

The new strategy aims to drive sustainable and long-term profitable growth for the company, and includes the launch of a new business segment, Walgreens Health, focused on technology-enabled health care in America.

The statement highlighted that the group continues to be “very pleased with the performance of Boots” as well as the international division as a whole, adding: “In line with the group’s long-term healthcare strategy, Boots UK continues to expand its healthcare offering.”

The Boots website also continues to grow “above expectations,” the company shared, “having more than doubled sales when compared to pre-pandemic levels.”

Last year Boots announced a restructuring plan, developed in order to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the business. Retail sales decreased 72% for Boots Opticians in the third quarter of 2020. Plans included cutting 4000 jobs and closing 48 optical practices.

Sharing fiscal year and fourth quarter results for 2021, WBA said it saw “robust growth and recovery” in its UK operations.

Boots UK comparable pharmacy sales increased 11.4% compared with the same quarter in 2020, while comparable retail sales increased 15.0% over the same time period. The company noted that footfall on the High Street recovered following the removal of lockdown measures, though noted that it has remained below pre-pandemic levels.

Sharing its goals for the 2022 financial year, Boots said that it aimed to further its position in healthcare and beauty: “These are growth markets exiting the pandemic, and Boots is well placed to seize opportunities in both areas.”