The nation’s chemist

A British chain of retail chemists founded by John Boot who in 1849 with support of the local Methodist community opened The British and American Botanic Establishment at 6 Goose Gate, Nottingham. By 1871 his son, Jesse Boot had become a partner in the business which traded as M & J Boot, Herbalists. Jesse Boot took control in 1877 and began a programme of expansion based on a policy of low prices, and also began employing pharmacists thus enabling the company to retail prescription drugs and trading under the name "Boots the Chemists".

In 1883 Jesse established the business as a private company under the name of Boot and Company Limited, and a year opened the company's first store outside Nottingham in Sheffield. By 1893 he had opened 33 stores and by 1900 there were 250 stores in the Boots retail chain.

In 1920 Jesse Boot, whose health had begun to decline, sold the business to the American company L K Liggett Co for £2.25 million. L K Liggett Co however was forced into bankruptcy as a result of the Depression and a consortium of British financiers paid slightly over £6 million to acquire the business. Boots has remained in British hands ever since, and is now a quoted company whose are traded on the London stockmarket.

More recently Boots has expanded into other fields, building a chain of opticians, as well as experimenting with other services dentistry, chiropody, homeopathy and osteopathy. Its acquistion of Halfords plc a retailer of car parts and accessories proved less successful, and this business has now been sold. It also operates the boots venture, as well as a lifestyle website for women.