Walgreens CEO says company is looking into strategic options for U.K.-based Boots business

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FILE – In an Oct. 5, 2005 file photo people walk by a Boots pharmacy in central London. Drugstore chain Walgreen Co. says it will spend $6.7 billion to buy a stake in health and beauty retailer Alliance Boots. (AP Photo/Sergio Dionisio)
Sergio Dionisio

Walgreens Boots Alliance CEO Roz Brewer said Tuesday that the retailer has begun a strategic review of its Boots business.

In a virtual presentation at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference, Brewer confirmed that the company is considering how to proceed with the U.K.-based drugstore chain. She did not say whether that would be a sale and, if so, who might be the buyer.

“While the process is in an exploratory stage, we do expect to move quickly,” she said.

Walgreens has been reportedly considering a sale, as it ramps up its focus on health care and competes with U.S. rival CVS Health. Earlier Tuesday, British news outlet Sky News reported that private equity firms Bain Capital and CVC Capital Partners were putting together a bid for Boots. It cited unnamed sources and Walgreens did not comment on the report.

Boots has more than 2,200 stores and roughly 51,000 employees, according to the company’s website. It also has hundreds of optical practices and hearing care locations. Along with selling drugstore items, it is known for beauty brands, including its own labels like No7 and Soap & Glory, which have been picked up by major retailers like Ulta Beauty and Walmart.

Shares of Walgreens were up less than 1% Tuesday afternoon and have risen about 13% over the past 12 months.

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