Boots goes for big stage in West End

Boots, the struggling high- street chemist chain, is working on boosting its profile in London with plans to open a flagship store on Oxford Street.

Details could be announced as early as Thursday, when it presents its annual results.

For months, company executives have been concerned that Boots has a poor presence in London's West End. The new store will be used to showcase fresh formats and products.

Boots declined to comment, but it is understood that the company is close to leasing 50,000 square feet of retail space at a new scheme being built close to Bond Street underground station.

The building, known as Sedley Place, is being developed by Welbeck Land, the property company controlled by the Howard de Walden family, which owns 92 acres of prime real estate between Regent's Park and Oxford Street.

Boots is in a state of flux as it awaits the arrival in September of Richard Baker, its new chief executive, who is moving from Asda. He replaces Steve Russell.

Major decisions, such as whether to sell Boots' drugs manufacturing business, are thought to be on hold until Mr Baker arrives at the company's head office in Nottingham.

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