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Boots Retail Thailand announces the appointment of new Managing Director, Mike Wanliss.

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Boots Retail Thailand announces the appointment of new Managing Director, Mike Wanliss.

Boots, Thailand: new MD

Boots Retail Thailand announces the appointment of new Managing Director, Mike Wanliss.

He will take up the new role on 21st January 2019, reporting into Dean Thompson, VP and regional managing director for Asia international retail.

Wanliss brings with him 40 years’ experience in the retail industry. He joins the business from M.H. Alshaya Co, a leading international franchise operator, where he has acted as VP Boots Middle East since 2011.

Wanliss has also carried out leadership roles at both Woolworths and Cooperative Pharmacy.

International health and beauty retailer Walgreens Boots Alliance taps half a billion consumer pool in China with Alibaba’s Tmall.

Beauty sector in China showing impressive growth rates

China’s beauty market is seeing rapid growth in recent years. As they become more sophisticated and brand-aware, Chinese shoppers are increasingly looking for quality international beauty and cosmetics products.

Cross-border e-commerce on Tmall

Alibaba’s Tmall Global platform is China’s largest B2C marketplace for both Chinese and international brands. It allows brands and retailers without operations in China to build virtual storefronts and ship products to the country. Alibaba asserts that the growth rate of gross merchandise volume (GMV) was over 70% for Tmall’s top 20 global strategic partners in 2017.

First step to reach great potential

Boots will launch its online flagship store exclusively on Tmall, introducing a range of Boots own popular brands to more than half a billion consumers in China. Popular products, such as No7, Soap & Glory and Boots Cucumber, will become available on the platform.

Today’s announcement is the first step on a path we believe offers both of us incredible potential for the future,” said Ken Murphy, executive vice president at Walgreens Boots Alliance.

Multiple routes to growth in China

 The business has described its latest venture with Tmall as complementary to its existing retailing and wholesaling activity in China. WBA has been operating in China for over a decade, recently increasing its investment in the market through a new strategic partnership with Guoda Drugstores Co. Ltd in December 2017. WBA’s $416m investment secured a 40% stake in the Chinese retail pharmacy business which operates more than 3,500 outlets in 70 different cities.

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According to reports in Retail Week, Boots is expanding rapidly in the South Korean market, rolling out thirteen new stores in the past year.

Thirteen new stores in the market

Walgreens Boots Alliance has rolled out a total of thirteen new Boots stores in South Korea in the past year.

The retailer first entered the market in 2016 through its franchise partnership with Emart, opening its first store in 2017.

In store range includes products tailored to local tastes, including a range of leading local cosmetics brands, as well as Boots’ private label brands such as No7 and Soap & Glory.

South Korea: a leader in health and beauty

South Korea is considered a leading market for health and beauty, particularly within skincare and cosmetics.

Emart predicted the beauty market to be worth £1.16bn in 2017.

Boots’ private label range helps the retailer to differentiate itself within a competitive beauty market.

No-brand range: focus on value

The Boots 700sq m flagship store is located in a busy tourist area in Seoul’s Myeongdong district and includes a front of store screen showcases Boots No7 products, providing the range with greater reach.

This flagship sets itself aside from the rest of Boots’ store portfolio in South Korea with its no-brand range.

The no-brand idea comes from Emart who had adopted the strategy in several of its convenience stores as a method of conveying value.

Walgreens Boots Alliance reported lower retail sales in its US and International divisions in the first quarter of the year. At a company level, sales increased 7.9% to $30.7bn, whilst operating income declined 8.6% to $1.3bn.

Pharmacy driving growth in the US

The US Retail Pharmacy business performed strongly, with sales increasing 8.9% to $22.5bn, and same store sales up 4.7%. Pharmacy was the driver behind this, benefitting from higher prescription volumes. In contrast, retail sales fell -2.8%, and same store sales were down 0.9%. However, performance of health & wellness and beauty categories were positive, offsetting weaker sales in general merchandise and grocery.

The integration of Rite Aid stores remains on track for the end of 2020.

Weaker International performance

The International Retail Pharmacy division saw sales decline -0.8% to $3.1bn, with same store sales falling -0.7% on a constant currency basis. This reflected lower retail sales at Boots in the UK.

In China, the company's recent acquisition of a 40% stake in leading Chinese pharmacy chain Sinopharm Holding Guoda Drugstores Co., Ltd positions WBA for retail growth, whilst the sale of its stake in Chinese wholesale partner Guangzhou Pharmaceuticals Corporation is set to generate a substantial cash return. Both agreements are subject to regulatory review and approval.

Latest developments include CVS's $69bn merger with health insurer Aetna, Walgreens launching a new marketing campaign, and an innovative service-focused concept store in Dallas.

CVS to merge with health insurer Aetna in $69bn deal

US pharmacy chain CVS plans to acquire one of the market's leading health insurance companies Aetna for $69bn. The transaction is expected to close in the second half of next year, and is subject to regulatory approval. The combination of CVS's store network, including more than 9,700 stores and 1,100 walk-in clinics, with Aetna's health care benefits programme will create a platform that is "easier to use and less expensive for consumers", says CVS's CEO Larry J. Merlo.

As a result of the merger, the retailer describes a future of community-based health hubs, including new health services in many locations. It also emphasises the benefits of integrated data and analytics, such as helping patients manage healthcare after they are discharged from hospital, to prevent re-admission.

Walgreens brand repositioning

Walgreens is phasing out "At the corner of happy and healthy" and introducing a new tagline "Trusted since 1901". As Walgreens' vast and expanding network of stores across the US continues to offer a convenient, neighbourhood-based service to shoppers, this new tagline underlines the business's heritage and decades of expertise in the industry. Care, trust and accessibility are the characteristics that define Walgreens' relationship with its customers, according to Walgreens Boots Alliance's COO Alex Gourlay. These are reflected in the new series of adverts each featuring a "care story" of Walgreens shoppers.

The company's CMO Adam Holyk commented "Beyond a new tagline, we hope to reflect where our brand is headed in the future with new initiatives and services that align to our brand promise: to always to be here to help you feel good.”

This emphasis of the company's heritage and its connection to customers and communities comes at a time when reports speculate whether Amazon will enter the pharmaceutical market. In Japan, Amazon has already taken its first steps in this direction, selling medicines which require approval of a pharmacist before they are delivered. It has also partnered with two drugstore chains to supply products through its Amazon Prime delivery service, according to reports in The Japan Times. 

Walgreens plans expansion in China

Walgreens plans to acquire a 40% stake in Chinese drug store chain Guoda Drug Store Co. Ltd., owned by Sinopharm Group Co. Ltd., reports Caixin Global.  The chain has close to 3,700 outlets, making it the largest drug store chain in the market. The $420m deal needs approval from China's Ministry of Commerce to go ahead.

New service-focused concept store from MAC and Bumble and bumble

The new 2,200 sq ft store in Dallas is the first time the two brands, both owned by Estee Lauder Companies Inc.., have been brought together in one space. The hair and make up studio concept was inspired by how MAC and Bumble and bumble work together backstage at fashion shows, comments MAC's senior VP and general manager for North America Gustavo Andriani in interview with Women's Wear Daily.

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