Boots plans to share shop floor

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The Independent Online

Boots is planning to lease space in its biggest stores to other retailers after a successful initial trial with Travelex, the currency specialist.

The chemist group, which is battling to carve out a niche for itself amid fierce competition from supermarkets, cannot cope with its surfeit of space in about 150 city-centre stores.

It hopes to find a handful of retailers to occupy entire floors in some of its biggest sites, such as Manchester. It has already leased space to Travelex in three stores – in Watford, Tunbridge Wells and Manchester.

"It's something we are actively considering," a company spokesman said last night. So far, Travelex, which complements Boots' travel offering, is the only company with which it has struck a deal.

Boots hopes that by concentrating on its core strengths of health and beauty it can lure back those shoppers who prefer supermarkets' lower prices. It dabbled with selling other products, such as televisions and DVD players, in the run-up to last Christmas. "We have too much space in some stores. If we are going to be a health and beauty specialist we don't necessarily need some of that space," the spokesman said.

Boots already sells mobile phones through a joint venture with Vodafone. It would consider leasing its spare space to clothing retailers or service businesses.

The group's legacy of excess space harks back to the 1970s, when it verged on becoming a department store.