Alliance Boots: 'Deeply rooted in Nottingham'

Walgreens sign, Pasadena, California Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Walgreens bought a 45% stake in the company in 2012, and now wants to buy the remaining 55% stake

Boots the Chemist was first opened in Nottingham 165 years ago and has now been sold to a US firm. What do the people from the city of its birth think about it changing hands to an American company?

The sale of the shops' owner Alliance Boots means it will now become wholly owned by US firm Walgreens, which had already bought 45% of the company in 2012 .

Walgreens says it intends to keep Boots' headquarters in Nottingham and insists jobs in the city are secure.

Although the news has been generally welcomed by local businesses, it has also prompted some fears the company's culture, "deeply rooted in Nottingham", could be lost.

Ewan Valentine, a former lead web developer at Boots, said there was a strong team spirit at the firm which benefitted not just the company but also the community generally.

While he said the takeover by Walgreens could continue to boost those relationships, he said he hoped Boots' "specific company culture, which is deeply rooted in not just the UK but in Nottingham" would not be lost.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Boots the Chemist has been a fixture on the British high street for more than a century

"I would hope that the remaining Boots UK directors will really fight to preserve that at this point, because it would be a real shame if that was lost," he said.

Nottingham South MP Lilian Greenwood, whose constituency includes Boots' headquarters, said some employees could be nervous.

"We want to hear what this means for the company in Nottingham, particularly what it means for the people who work there," she said.

"It's a huge employer in the city. People will be anxious about their future and will want some reassurance."

But a spokesman for Alliance Boots insisted the takeover was good news for the city, adding that there were no plans for job losses or changes.

"Because of the geography it will remain central for retail and research and development," he said.

The news was welcomed by George Cowcher, chief executive of the Chamber of Commerce for Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire (DNLCC).

He said: "It is exciting to see one of DNLCC's leading members become part of the first global, pharmacy-led health and wellbeing enterprise."

But Guy Kilty, from the BBC's business unit, sounded note of caution.

"Walgreen's have said they will look to make cost reductions of about $1bn over the next three years," he said.

"They have said that will come at a corporate, field and store level, so there will be cost savings across this new business.

"They haven't specified where this will come but you so have to think, and there is a lot of manufacturing in Nottingham, that it might have an impact."

The topic generated debate on Facebook.

Tracey Roden wrote: "Another American company buying up a British firm, promising to leave HQ etc in place. How long before the promise is broken?"

And Janet Lawn said: "Sad that another company will no longer be British owned."

But Thomas Stanyard disagreed, writing: "Not sure why people are worried about the loss of a 'British' company. Alliance Boots is run from Switzerland and has been since 2008."

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