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Boots reportedly explores potential sale

By Rachel Douglass

6 Dec 2021

Business

Image: Boots

The parent company of Boots, Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA), is reportedly in links with the Wall Street bank, Goldman Sachs, to review options that could result in new owners for the health and beauty retailer.

Sources tied to Sky News have said that the discussions are exploratory and might not ultimately lead to a sale. However, there is also the possibility the chain will move under a separately listed company.

Said to be in talks over a sale next year, Boots could be valued at over five billion pounds if moved in on, one of the most significant deals involving a high street chain for the past few years.

As one of the largest in the country, the retailer operates 2,200 stores and employs 55,000 people.

Recent years has seen Boots face criticism over its failure to adapt to modernisation, however, its sale could still potentially cause scrutiny, due to its active role as a provider of public healthcare services. Speculation over a sale has mounted recently, following WBA’s disposal of its European distribution arm, Alliance Healthcare, earlier this year.

“WBA announced a renewed set of priorities and strategic direction for the Group…”

A statement provided to the publisher by 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.

“As underlined during the last WBA investor conference, the Group continues to be very pleased with the performance of Boots and the International division as a whole.”

It further stated that it is continuing to expand its healthcare offering alongside its online operation, which “continued to grow above expectations having more than doubled sales when compared to pre-pandemic levels”.

Despite strong numbers, Boots announced 4,000 job cuts last year due to the restructuring of its Nottingham head office and store management teams. Before the pandemic, it also closed around 200 UK stores, in reference to the changing of shopping habits.