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Boots Opticians to merge with Dollond & Aitchison

29 January 2009

Alliance Boots announces today that it has reached agreement to create the second largest optical chain in the UK, through the merger of its Boots Opticians business with Dollond & Aitchison.

The combined business, which will trade as Boots Opticians, will have around 690 practices, including around 210 franchises, and will directly employ more than 5,000 people. It is envisaged that the Dollond & Aitchison practices will, in due course, adopt the Boots Opticians brand. Both businesses have a strong heritage and an excellent reputation for service and customer care, providing a great opportunity to combine these strengths under one brand with a differentiated product offering.

Dollond & Aitchison is currently owned by De Rigo, a worldwide leader in the design, manufacture, and marketing of high-quality eyewear, and one of the largest optical retailers in Europe.

Alliance Boots will hold a controlling stake in the new company which will be jointly owned with De Rigo. It will be run as a stand-alone business and it is proposed that, in due course, the headquarters will be based in Nottingham. Within the new business, Pradip Patel (currently MD of Boots Opticians) will become Chairman and Andy Ferguson (currently CEO of Dollond & Aitchison) will be appointed as Managing Director.

The transaction, which is subject to the approval of the competition authorities, is expected to be completed in the second quarter of 2009. UniCredit Markets & Investment Banking acted as sole financial advisor to Alliance Boots.

The new business will:

  • Continue to focus upon service and customer care, building upon the strong heritage and reputation of each business
  • Create scale and competitive strength that will underpin the ability to offer customers even better value for money
  • Maximise the benefits from the trust that customers place in the Boots brand Leverage De Rigo’s strength as a leading designer of high-quality eyewear
  • Deliver enhanced business and financial performance and thereby better career opportunities for employees.

Stefano Pessina, Executive Chairman of Alliance Boots, commented: "The merger gives us an excellent opportunity to create a leading force in the UK optical market. Our plan is to grow and develop the new business, building on the strengths of the Boots brand."

Maurizio Dessolis, Vice Chairman of De Rigo, added: "The proposed merger will bring together many complementary strengths. The new business will offer customers excellent service and high-quality eyewear. We are confident that with this extraordinary opportunity for expansion, it will thrive as a leading eyecare and eyewear provider."

ENDS

Editor's Notes:

Alliance Boots is an international pharmacy-led health and beauty group with two core businesses, pharmacy-led health and beauty retailing and pharmaceutical wholesaling. Working in partnership with manufacturers and pharmacists, the Group delivers a range of products and services that help millions of consumers and patients look and feel their best. Formed on 31 July 2006, Alliance Boots is privately owned and employs over 110,000* people. It has a presence in over 20* countries operating over 370* pharmaceutical wholesale warehouses delivering to over 135,000* pharmacies, doctors, health centres and hospitals. It operates more than 3,200* health and beauty retail outlets, of which over 2,900* have a pharmacy dispensing more than 210 million* items each year. * Figures stated are as at 31 March 2008, are approximate and include associates and joint ventures.

De Rigo is a worldwide leader in the design, manufacture and marketing of high-quality eyewear and one of the largest optical retailers in Europe through its Dollond & Aitchison and General Optica retail chains. Designed in Italy, the Group’s products are distributed in about 80 countries worldwide, primarily in Europe, Asia and the Americas. It distributes its products under its own brand names - Lozza, Police, Sting - as well as under licensed brands - Celine, Chopard, Ermenegildo Zegna, Escada, Etro, Fila Eyewear, Furla, Givenchy, Jean Paul Gaultier, Loewe and Pirelli. Dollond & Aitchison has over 400 opticians branches in the UK, including franchises, and General Optica is Iberia’s leading optical retailer.

For further information, please contact:

Yves Romestan / Zoe Farthing
Alliance Boots
Tel: +44 (0) 1932 871569

James Murgatroyd / Zoe Watt
Finsbury
Tel: +44 (0) 207 251 3801