Is Boots set to be sold for £10billion? US owner ready to offload chemist that employs around 55,000 in the UK as it is ‘keen to focus more on healthcare and the North American market’
Boots is set to be put up for sale by its American owner.
A feature on high streets for 172 years, the pharmacy chain could fetch more than £10billion.
Boots has 2,200 stores in the UK and employs around 55,000.
But its parent company Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) has said it is keen to focus more on healthcare and the North American market.
WBA is lining up Wall Street bank Goldman Sachs to oversee a review of the business that could result in hoisting the ‘for sale’ sign over Boots.
Boots traces its roots back to 1849, when farm worker and chemist John Boot opened a herbal remedies store in Nottingham. Pictured: Staff from Boots the Chemists in Hartlepool outside their store in 1924
A City source told the Daily Mail that a sale was ‘not immediately imminent, but on the cards’. There is also the possibility that Boots could join the stock market.
A full-blown sale of Boots would be one of the biggest deals involving a high street chain for years. It would be pored over by ministers because Boots plays a crucial role in delivering public healthcare services.
The price will also come under close scrutiny. Walgreens paid £17billion to acquire Alliance Boots in two transactions in 2012 and 2014.
Some analysts have said Boots could be worth more than £10billion, according to Sky News, which first reported the sale. Boots’ financial documents say it made a £131million profit last year.
The company has been led by former Dixons Carphone boss Sebastian James since 2018.
Boots traces its roots back to 1849, when farm worker and chemist John Boot opened a herbal remedies store in Nottingham. The enterprise was expanded by his son Jesse and by 1933 had 1,000 UK stores.
It has changed hands multiple times in the past 15 years. Boots was merged with drug wholesaler Alliance Unichem in 2006, then in 2007 private equity titan KKR acquired the combined group for £11billion.
In 2012 US retailer Walgreens bought a 45 per cent stake in Alliance Boots, and bought the rest of the business two years later. Illinois-based WBA has indicated it is keen to focus more on North America and on healthcare.
Boots,which has 2,200 UK stores and employs around 55,000 people, is set to be put up for sale by its American owner for more than £10billion
Question marks were raised about Boots’ future when WBA sold its European distribution arm, Alliance Healthcare, for £4.9billion earlier this year.
WBA has said that Boots is performing well, with online trading in particular outperforming. But its stores have come under pressure in recent years, with around 200 branches earmarked for closure shortly before the pandemic.
And last year it revealed plans to cut 4,000 jobs in a shake-up of its head office and management teams.
In a statement, WBA said: ‘Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) does not comment on market speculation and Boots is an important part of the group.
‘However, 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 group continues to be very pleased with the performance of Boots and the international division as a whole.’