Shops to soft-soap the lads market

BOOTS IS opening new stores just for men to cater for the growing band of males keen to moisturise, scrub and perfume themselves.

The first two pilot Boots Men units will open in Bristol and Edinburgh in October, with more planned for major cities and shopping centres - either as stand-alones or in existing stores.

The group said that the market for men's toiletries in the United Kingdom was now worth more than pounds 700m a year. Boots cited research from an FHM magazine survey last year which showed men spending on average of 30 minutes in the bathroom before work, rising to 45 minutes before going out in the evening. A total of 67 per cent of men under 40 used a moisturiser, while 76 per cent used a blemish concealer.

The growing interest in such products has been fuelled in part by magazines such as Loaded, GQ and FHM, Boots said. Martin Bryant, a marketing director for the group, said: "We have recognised that the men's market offers a major opportunity to deepen our ownership of health and beauty."