Health and beauty retailer Alliance Boots is to kick-start online overseas expansion as part of plans to make Boots a global brand.
The retailer will offer more than 23,000 products on yet-to-launch site International.Boots.com in Europe.
The retailer already operates stores in Norway, the Republic of Ireland, the Netherlands and Thailand, but the push would represent the first comprehensive online overseas drive by the retailer.
Boots will launch its Irish website first in June, and will use it as a platform for a European roll-out.
Alliance Boots UK chief executive of health and beauty Alex Gourlay said: “We are focusing on getting it right for Ireland before opening elsewhere.”
Through its tie-up with Walgreens, Alliance Boots is also rolling out Boots products in the US.
In November, Boots’ No7 brand launched in the new Walgreens flagship in Hollywood with dedicated beauty advisers and freestanding
in-store merchandising units.
Executive chairman Stefano Pessina told Retail Week: “We will open No7 spaces in all new flagship Walgreens as we seek to build up the brand there. There is a lot of opportunity.” Walgreens.com also has a ‘Boots shop’ with about 300 products including No7 and Botanics.
Boots is also trialling 500 products in 23 stores operated by Dairy Farm-owned Mannings in Hong Kong and seeks further partners in China following deals with Nanjing Pharmaceutical and Guangzhou Pharmaceuticals.
The overseas push comes despite international trading profit falling 17.5% to £52m in the year to March 31, as operations were hit by pressures including strong competition and a weaker euro.
However, group trading profit increased 6.1% to £1.27bn despite a 2.6% fall in revenue to £22.4bn during what Pessina dubbed a “transformational year”. Group EBITDA advanced 4.5% to £1.51bn.
Trading profit at the UK health and beauty division increased 8.8% to £813m after a focus on core health and beauty categories. UK like-for-likes fell 2.9%.Online sales rose 17%. Mobile accounted for 25% of visits and 45% of orders were click-and-collect.
Pessina said: “We continue to be confident about our prospects and ability to pursue profitable growth organically from our synergy programmes and through international expansion.”
It is the first time Boots has unveiled figures since partnering with Walgreens, which will ultimately lead to a merger. Walgreens has a 45% stake in Alliance Boots.