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Boots parent ‘revisiting plan to sell its UK business’

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Boots parent ‘revisiting plan to sell its UK business’

Walgreens Boots Alliance, the US-headquartered parent company of the Boots chain of pharmacies, has reignited attempts to sell its UK business according to reports.

Bloomberg has reported that while formal sales discussions have not yet started, WBA officials have enlisted advisers to set up initial talks with potential buyers. The Bloomberg report saw WBA stock prices jump by 7.2 per cent to $18.43. 

WBA, the product of a merger between US chain Walgreens and Alliance Boots over a decade ago, called off a first sales attempt in the summer of 2022 after no interested parties were able to meet a price tag reportedly in the region of £7bn.

WBA has also reportedly looked at the possibility of a stock market flotation for Boots.

In 2021, WBA completed the sale of European wholesale arm Alliance Healthcare to AmerisourceBergen for $6.5bn. In November last year, Boots UK offloaded its staff pension liabilities to Legal & General in what was reported as the largest ever transaction of its kind. 

As of March this year, Boots claimed to have roughly 2,000 stores – down from around 2,200 in 2022 – with most of these having a pharmacy. In recent years, the company has invested heavily in flagship stores with beauty halls and sold off a significant number of high street pharmacies in locations with other nearby Boots branches.

Boots employs over 52,000 staff, including more than 4,400 pharmacists, 13,000 support staff members and over 4,800 opticians. 

Its most recent published accounts show it made a £15m profit in the 12 months to September 2022, reversing a £111m loss the previous year. Its beauty and online retail segments have consistently made market share gains since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

WBA declined to comment on the record when approached by P3pharmacy.

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