Boots takes a step into the foot business

BOOTS THE CHEMISTS will open its first three chiropody centres today as it continues its expansion into related health services.

The first three chiropody centres will open in Crawley, Manchester and Burton-on-Trent today. A further two centres will open at Bluewater Park, near Dartford, on Tuesday and Chester in May. The pilot stores will be assessed before a national roll out is given the go-ahead.

Boots has been looking at several ways of taking advantage of the strength of the Boots brand in the health sector. Its first dental-care practice will open in Milton Keynes in May as part of an attack on the fragmented dentistry market.

Boots already has a chain of opticians in addition to its 1,200-strong chain of chemist stores. It said its chiropody services would be undertaken by, or under the supervision of, state-registered chiropodists.

Boots is investing pounds 1m in the project. It says the chiropody market was worth pounds 200m last year.

Richard Holmes, Boots' director of healthcare businesses, said: "This trial is another example of Boots exploring ways in which it can build on its strong health and beauty offer."

He said the centres would offer a combination of clinical services and "pampering footcare treatments".

Separately Boots has been expanding its chemists operations overseas. It has opened stores in the Netherlands and is examining options in other European markets. It has also targeted Thailand.