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Walgreens Looks Into Selling Boots, CEO Confirms

The potential sale comes as Walgreens focuses more on the U.S. health care business.

The alliance between Walgreens and Boots may soon be no longer.

On Tuesday, Walgreens Boots Alliance chief executive officer Rosalind Brewer confirmed that the group is “exploring strategic options” for the Boots business, which operates a chain of drugstores in the U.K.

The possibility of a sale comes as Walgreens looks to ramp up its health care business in the U.S., Brewer said during a presentation at the JPMorgan Annual Healthcare Conference.

“We have initiated a strategic review of the Boots business,” Brewer said. “This review is very much in line with our renewed priorities and strategic direction, in particular, our increased focus on U.S. health care.”

Brewer said the process is still in the “exploratory stage,” but that she expects it to move swiftly. A sale could include No. 7, the Boots-owned beauty line. Brewer characterized the Boots business as “growing strongly” and contributing to Walgreens’ international sales growth.

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News of the potential sale had leaked before the conference, via press reports.

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Earlier this month, Walgreens said for the first quarter, Boots U.K.’s retail sales increased 16.3 percent due to higher foot traffic.

“Our transformation continues as planned with investment, particularly in digital, our beauty portfolio and health care services, aiding a fast-paced recovery from the pandemic,” said Seb James, the managing director for Boots U.K. and Republic of Ireland, in a statement. “This is also driving strong market share gains from both traditional and new competitors. Digital sales are almost double what they were two years ago.”

Boots operates more than 2,200 stores, and sits within the retail pharmacy international division of WBA.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Boots said: “We can confirm that Walgreens Boots Alliance, in line with its recently announced priorities and strategic direction that include a greater focus on U.S. health care, has announced a strategic review, primarily focused on our successful Boots business, including No7 Beauty Company. This strategic review is at an exploratory stage and further announcements will be made in due course, after the right decision has been reached for Boots’ future and for all stakeholders.”

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