Boots and D&A see eye to eye on merger
BOOTS is to merge its in-store optician counters with rival Dollond & Aitchison to create the second-largest eye-care chain in the UK, under plans announced yesterday.
If the scheme is approved by the competition authorities then Alliance Boots and De Rigo, which owns Dollond & Aitchison, will jointly own the new company, with Boots holding the controlling stake.
The combined business will have about 690 branches, including some 210 franchises, and will directly employ more than 5,000 people. Dollond & Aitchison will gradually disappear from the high street as its stores adopt the Boots Opticians brand.
The new Boots Opticians is expected to knock Vision Express off second place in the UK's optical chain pecking order. Specsavers will still be the country's largest opticians.
Boots Opticians currently employs about 2,800 people, while Dollond & Aitchison has 2,200 workers. Boots Opticians will be run as a stand-alone business and it is expected that the headquarters will be in Nottingham.
Stefano Pessina, executive chairman of Alliance Boots, said: "The merger gives us an excellent opportunity to create a leading force in the UK optical market."
A spokeswoman for Alliance Boots said neither company had full coverage in the UK, so it was anticipated that there would not be much overlap. She said the merger was motivated by a desire "to grow the business" rather than out of any financial worries on either side. "The idea is really to create a leading force in the optical market," she said.
Dolland & Aitchison has 32 stores in Scotland, while Boots has 17 in-store opticians.
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