Boots to Revamp Stores, Cut Jobs
LONDON — Boots Group plc plans to indulge in some retail therapy.

The U.K.’s largest health and beauty chain is set to invest 250 million pounds, or $432.8 million at current exchange, in refurbishing 700 of its smaller Boots the Chemists stores, as well as updating its supply chain and reorganizing its IT arrangements.

The supply-chain reorganization will lead to a reduction of about 2,250 jobs when a central automated warehouse is up and running in three years. Boots generated the cash injection from the sale of its Boots Healthcare International division, which Reckitt Benckiser plc acquired for 1.9 billion pounds, or $3.3 billion.

Richard Baker, Boots chief executive officer, said in a statement, “Our small stores have been underinvested and are important to the communities they serve.” The store investment program will be used to improve the “shopping environment for customers and working conditions for employees, as well as expenditure to complete outstanding repairs and maintenance in these stores,” according to the company.
Brid Costello

Mercier Sale Talk Heats Up
NEW YORK — The sale of Laura Mercier, owned by Neiman Marcus Group, is gathering steam, with speculation mounting on potential bidders possibly including L’Oréal and Coty Inc. Neither firm could be reached for comment at press time Tuesday.

Financo Inc., which is handling the transaction, is currently compiling a prospectus on Laura Mercier. Financo chairman Gilbert Harrison would not comment on progress in the sale, other than saying, “There’s a high level of interest from a number of strategic partners.” Financo was hired last December.

However, another source said, “It’s possible that a bidder could preempt the process,” meaning that a serious bid could come in even before the book is out.

Neiman Marcus is also selling Kate Spade, the accessories brand, which, although the business is troubled, is likely to be sold to a Seventh Avenue firm.

This story first appeared in the March 15, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

load comments
blog comments powered by Disqus