Boots enters Dubai and Kuwait

High street pharmacy to focus on over-the-counter medicines to test the market with its Middle East stores

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By  Roger Field Published  July 5, 2006

Boots, a UK-based pharmacy and retail chain, has entered the GCC with the opening of stores in Kuwait and Dubai in partnership with Kuwait-based retail group MH Alshaya Co. Boots, which has a master franchise agreement for the GCC with Alshaya, opened its first stores in the region in June, two in Dubai and two in Kuwait. The Dubai stores include a 470 sq m outlet in Ibn Battuta Mall and a 200 sq m store in Jumeirah Village, and a third outlet is due to open in Mall of Emirates in the next month. Andy Powell, Boots’ regional country manager for the UAE, confirmed to Retail News Middle East that a fourth store is also planned for Dubai, although the location has not yet been specified. He added that further Boots stores are due to open across the GCC. “Under the terms of the franchise agreement we have agreed to cover all of the GCC countries,” he said. “Already we’re looking at potential locations in Abu Dhabi, so we’re thinking very positively about success of the Dubai stores. Abu Dhabi is one of the places we’re looking at this year.” The stores will focus on Boots core business of over-the-counter medicines, health and beauty products, such as skincare and cosmetics, and baby products. Products available include distinctive Boots own brands, such as No7 cosmetic products and Botanics skin care products. Further product categories will be added depending on customer demand, according to Powell. “A lot of it will be about learning as we go through, finding out what kind of products customers want,” he said. “We think we have an idea, and that’s why we’re going in very gently with a few stores. We’re specialising in healthcare and pharmaceuticals through to toiletries or personal care items. Every store will have a pharmacy and trained pharmacists. The position that we’ve taken is that what’s important is to offer a competitive position in the market.” Boots and Alshaya are convinced that the venture will be a success. Mohammed Alshaya, CEO of Alshaya said that Boots, which is the leading health and beauty retailer in the UK with a 30% market share, will be unique in the Middle East. “Nothing like the Boots brand currently exists in the Middle East and we’re looking forward to welcoming the expertise that they have honed over 150 years into the GCC market.” Jonathan Farrington, Boots’ director for Europe and Middle East, said: “We believe it’s the right time for Boots to enter the GCC market and we associate the success of this project with a great choice of our GCC partner.” He added that Alshaya also has the right local market expertise and operates a range of international brands. Boots’ founder, John Boot, opened his first herbalist shop in Nottingham, England in 1849. His son, Jesse Boot, took over the business laying the foundations for what it is today. Boots now has more than 1,450 stores across the UK, employing 60,000 people. Internationally, the health and beauty experts have presence across Asia, Europe, USA and Australasia.

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