Both retailers are interested in stores, but are not said to want the entire business. Billionaire industrialist Merckle’s business Phoenix UK – which owns Rowlands – was put up for sale earlier this month.
Alliance Boots owns the UK’s largest pharmacy chain Boots and The Co-operative Group is the UK’s third biggest pharmacy.
Merckle was once ranked as one of the 100 richest men in the world with an£8.5bn personal fortune. He committed suicide as the banking crisis hit his empire.