Boots plans to take dispensary market by storm

Boots intends to ramp up its pharmacy offer after a Government shake-up of licensing rules cleared the way for at least 50 new dispensaries.

The health and beauty retailer is determined to grow its share of the pharmacy market and is pushing into the field, opening 10 outlets in health centres this year and offering add-on services.

'Pharmacy is at the heart of our business and we receive more than a billion customer visits a year,' said a Boots spokesman.

'Boots operates about 1,300 pharmacies in stores and has identified at least a further 50 stores where a new pharmacy could be opened immediately, with opportunities for more to follow,' he said.

Health Minister Rosie Winterton will grant licences to retailers that stay open for more than 100 hours a week, offer health advice or provide Internet-based operations.

Asda welcomed the changes, which make it easier for grocers to get in on the action. 'This marks the beginning of the end of the pharmacy closed shop,' said a spokesman.