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Stefano Pessina: Walgreens deal ‘will not kill Boots’

Business Alliance Boots’ partnership with US pharmacy chain Walgreens will not spell the end of the Boots brand and could, in fact, create UK jobs, the company’s executive chairman Stefano Pessina (pictured, left) has said.

Alliance Boots' partnership with US pharmacy chain Walgreens will not spell the end of the Boots brand and could, in fact, create UK jobs, the company's executive chairman Stefano Pessina has said.

Mr Pessina reacted angrily to suggestions that Walgreens' 45 per cent stake in the health and beauty giant, announced yesterday (June 19), could hurt the UK business.

The US company retains the right to buy the remaining 55 per cent stake in Alliance Boots in three years' time, but Mr Pessina stressed that the deal would not be a takeover.

"Why would I want to do a deal that killed Boots?" Stefano Pessina, Alliance Boots executive chairman, with Greg Wasson, president and CEO of Walgreens

More on the Alliance Boots-Walgreens deal

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Alliance Boots profits rocket as UK dispensing income       dips

"Why would I want to do a deal that killed Boots?" Mr Pessina asked. "I've done the deal to make it more visible and international."

He stressed that, if Walgreens did buy the remaining shares of Alliance Boots in 2015, any new name would "reflect the tradition and story" of the company.

Mr Pessina also emphatically ruled out job cuts, adding that the deal could potentially create UK jobs as Boots looked to export its own-brand products to the US market.

"The only thing we can see is probably we'll need some more people [so we can] manufacture more products. How can you think of job cuts? Boots will not just survive, it will thrive," he told a press conference.

The comments were echoed by Alex Gourlay, chief executive of Alliance Boots' health and beauty division. In an exclusive interview with C+D, Mr Gourlay said the merger would not affect employees' contracts and that jobs were "secure".

"I think the biggest win here is for pharmacists," he said. "This is going to be a new enterprise that will employ thousands of pharmacists [across the two countries] and there's a real commitment to pharmacy."

Mr Gourlay added that the move would enable the sharing of best practice between the UK and the US, citing technology as an important area for development. "US technology has been really strong – not just in pharmacy operations, but also in terms of customers and being able to track customers," he told C+D.

He added that Boots would be interested in any technology that would enable pharmacists to spend more time with patients. "The whole aim is to free up pharmacists to spend more time making sure patients understand their medication and helping them lead healthier lives," Mr Gourlay explained.

"Pharmacy practice has been transformed in the past five or six years through the new contract and we've just got to keep going, giving customers value and making sure the government continues to pay for pharmacy."

How do you think the deal will affect Boots pharmacists?

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Farmacist Pharmacist, Locum pharmacist

does anyone actually know the restrictions on working in US for EU pharmacists, its okay for BRIT trained but not EU trained, that might mean the majority of pharmacists ie EU who work for Boots can work in USA .....

Career Miss Take, Locum pharmacist

I'm sure there are very few pharmacist are particularly concerned if the deal 'kills off Boots'.We would like an organisation that genuinely wants to promote pharmacy and help pharmacists achieve a decent remuneration.

Yasin Patel, Locum pharmacist

I do, Walgreen pay 100,000 or more in Chicago, il happily move there and work there.

Career Miss Take, Locum pharmacist

If it's so amazing why don't you?

samra suri, Community pharmacist

Won't you have to do all the conversions to work in US?

Yassin Dickie, Community pharmacist

Yes you will.

Brian Smith, Pharmacy technician

How many people out there actually believe anything this person says??

Yassin Dickie, Community pharmacist

Were you referring to Mr Pessina or Mr Gourlay.? Or both.?..?

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