Alliance Boots has moved a step closer to opening Boots-branded pharmacies in Sweden by striking a tie-up with a company owned by the Swedish Association of Pharmacists.

The health and beauty giant has signed a letter of intent with Farmacevtföretagarna. It said in a statement the “potential establishment of a new jointly owned business in Sweden” will “enable independent Swedish pharmacies to operate as Boots-branded franchises”.

In November, Sweden opened up its previously state-owned pharmacy sector to competition, selling more than half of an estimated 900 state-owned Apoteket pharmacy stores.

Alliance Boots’ move is part of executive chairman Stefano Pessina’s plan to establish Boots-branded pharmacies in new countries.