Baker sees potential of global pharmacies
Boots chief executive Richard Baker has revealed that the healthcare giant's international retail arm will deliver a profit this year after several difficult years.

Speaking at Retail Week's annual conference today, he said: 'Boots International made a loss of£40 million three years ago, [but] we will make a profit this year.'

Baker stressed that expanding the retailer's international business was a critical driver behind its proposed merger with Alliance UniChem and said there is no other company trying to establish a global network of pharmacies.

'The great thing is that there is no brand trying to occupy international pharmacies and we do see a real opportunity to take this brand outside the UK,' said Baker.

Beyond saving money and delivering growth, he said: 'For our shareholders, creating international brands is the most important thing.'

In other areas, he said home delivery will be critical to Boots' future business in the UK. For instance, he said the retailer's integration with the NHS's technology infrastructure will provide opportunities. 'When the pharmacy business goes to e-mail and not prescriptions there will be an important role for home delivery,' he said. To this end, the Alliance merger will help by providing more pharmacies close to local GP surgeries.