retailing
retailing

Boots: The Year Ahead

Already ubiquitous in the U.K., the health and beauty chain has expansion plans for both home and abroad.

Appeared In
Special Issue
WWD Special Report issue 01/29/2010

Boots is aiming to grow its footprint in the U.K. and beyond in 2010. The health and beauty chain, which is already a ubiquitous presence on the U.K. high street, will begin trialing a partnership with supermarket chain Waitrose in the spring, which will result in the retailers selling a selection of each other’s products.

“We will look to roll that out if we get the reaction we expect,” said Alex Gourlay, chief executive officer of Alliance Boots’ health and beauty division. Boots has rebranded 13 pharmacies it operates within Waitrose stores under the Boots moniker, too.

Internationally, the retailer is also continuing its rollout of the Boots Apotek format in Norway and its trial of the Boots Apotheek concept in The Netherlands, as well as opening doors in the Republic of Ireland and Thailand.

Plus, the Boots Laboratories brand, which is sold via pharmacies in France and Portugal, will be introduced in additional European countries. The label, which could be expanded to include other categories, such as hair care, was developed for international markets on the back of the success of the No7 Protect & Perfect treatment products in the U.K. Boots is also looking at taking some of its other retail brands to international markets.

“We’re already selling No7 in the U.S. with Target,” said Gourlay. Boots’ own beauty brands also include Soltan sun care and Botanics, a treatment, bath and body line, for example. Gourlay added that promising product categories include antiaging treatment items, sun care and antiviral products, which have become increasingly popular since the swine flu.

Looking ahead, Gourlay said Boots, which in December celebrated 160 years in business, is also aiming to enhance the shopping experience within its stores. “Our strategy is to provide customer care, rather than just customer service,” he said. Gourlay explained the firm is simplifying its operations to free up store staff. “They’re handling stock less and so spending more time with customers,” he said. The retailer is upping its service levels online, too. In 2009, Boots partnered with WebMD to offer an online health information portal.

“Customers want to take control of their health and beauty,” Gourlay said.

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