Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Boots the Chemists
Boots is the dominant pharmacist chain in the United Kingdom, with outlets in most high streets throughout the country. In recent years they have diversified their business from a traditional pharmacy to one offering one-hour photo-processing, opticians, and even home appliances in certain stores. Boots until recently owned Halfords and once owned FADS, a home furnishings store and Do-It-All, a joint venture with W H Smith. Childrens World — similar to Mothercare — was another Boots company.
Boots was founded in Nottingham by John Boot in 1849 and transformed into a national chain by his son Jesse. Its current logo is based on a design made by one of Jesse's signwriters in the 1870s. The chain was established during that time, and for the first time they became official dispensing chemists, stocking prescription medicines. By the onset of the First World War there were over five hundred Boots shops. Boots now has almost one thousand stores including some stores overseas.
The Company was until recently called The Boots Company and consisted of several subsidary companies, such as Boots the Chemists Limited. It is now called Boots U.K and Ireland or the Boots Group PLC. The Company has been broadly split into two mostly independent entities that handle manufacturing and retail operations. Originally with their own logos, all parts of the Company (except Crookes Healthcare) now share the Boots lozenge logo.
Since the appointment of a new Chief Executive from ASDA the Company has been given greater re-focus - inevitably leading to more outsourcing (such as Boots's own warehouses at its Head Office base in Nottingham - now owned by UNIPART ) and job losses at Nottingham. In a break from tradition, Boots is reported to be preparing to lease out a main office building (vacant due to the level of staff losses) on its own private estate in Beeston, Nottinghamshire.
The Boots Estate
The Boots Estate features a range of listed buildings and staff enjoy a staff restaurant, coffee and snack shops, newsagent , branch of Boots and bank situated within beautifully landscaped grounds. The landscaped grounds include the Millennium Garden which features a herb garden (with some plants that Jesse used in his original herbal remedies) in the shape of a goose foot - harking back to Jesse's original shop on Goosegate in Nottingham. The Boots Museum is now closed (due to cost cutting) and historical items are in storage. The Head Offices are adorned with some interesting artefacts from old stores and feature two 'shops' where new displays and advertising are trialled. Over the summer months staff work hard to create Christmas displays in the second of the two shops hidden from view with only certain staff permitted access. The plans for Christmas - a major trading time for any retailer - start to take shape in September and late Summer as stores gradually move shelving and displays ready for the massive increase in products and stock. Stores are therefore in a state of flux for almost half the year, although the Company makes great efforts to keep disruption to a minimum to its customers and is very much focused on customer navigation of its stores. The Head Office site also features its own trial suite where new products are sampled and tested by consumers before the final decision is made to launch a product. However Boots also develops and produces a range of products for major names.
Expansion & Diversification
Boots has recently branched into dentistry, with a number of stores offering this service. Boots has also made a venture into "Wellbeing" services offering customers treatments ranging from facials, homeopathy, and nutritional advice to laser eye surgery and Botox (although the Botox service was short-lived). A number of Wellbeing centres opened within stores such as Nottingham; however, although Nottingham is reported to have traded well, the other Wellbeing centres were not so successful. A decision was therefore made to close "Wellbeing," and the Company decided to return its focus to its traditional core businesses. Some critics consider this decision to be premature, since the stores performed well and a huge finacial investment was made to convert stores to support Wellbeing. The logic behind many decisions must fall upon the shoulders of the decision makers within the Company, since, for example, Nottingham has closed its Wellbeing over a year ago - and although efforts are now underway to reclaim the floorspace, this floorspace has remained unprofitable for some time. Laser eye surgery remains active and so do some "Footcare" services. Boots Hearingcare was sold, and although it continues to trade at Boots, the service is owned by another Company. In late 2004 Boots also sold off the Dentistry, Footcare and Lasix services to Optical Express who, like the Hearingcare, will continue to trade at Boots.
Boots has also diversified into the research and manufacturing of drugs. It discovered ibuprofen, a painkiller and continues producing, trading and exporting its finished form (tablets, syrup etc.) in the UK and internationally, although manufacturing the bulk drug is now the activity of major pharmachemical operations in the USA, India and China.
Boots may well expand into the U.S. by supplying its popular ranges such as Botanics to department stores. Boots stores are starting to sell products not traditionally associated with Boots such as Dyson cleaners - under the name 'Offer of the Week'. These 'odd' items are bought in bulk and savings on High Street prices are passed onto the customer. Although many may see this as odd, Jesse's own customers were often presented with 'odd' items which Jesse purchased by buying in bulk and taking the first steps towards the strength of bulk buying. Jesse once filled the windows of his second Goosegate shop with sponges!
Since 1936, there have been Boots stores outside the UK. Stores in countries as widely spread as New Zealand, Canada (see Pharma Plus) and France were all closed in the 1980s. A new roll-out started in 1997 with The Netherlands, Thailand, Taiwan and Japan but only Thailand survives, as an independent chain. In other countries (including more recently USA, Switzerland and Hong Kong), Boots products are sold from instore 'implants' in department stores and other drugstores.
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