Alliance Boots plc is the leading drugstore retailer in the United Kingdom and is also one of the largest pharmaceutical wholesalers in Europe. The company was formed in July 2006 through the merger of Boots Group PLC and Alliance UniChem Plc. Its retail side, which is led by the U.K. chain Boots The Chemists (BTC), includes 2,300 community pharmacies and health and beauty stores in the United Kingdom, 300 Boots Opticians practices in the United Kingdom, and 400 international pharmacies in the Republic of Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, and Thailand. Among the stores' offerings are a range of proprietary Boots-owned brands, including Boots, No7, Soltan, and Botanics. On the wholesaling side, Alliance Boots distributes a full line of medicines and other healthcare products to more than 125,000 pharmacies, hospitals, and health centers in 14 countries: the Czech Republic, Egypt, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, and the United Kingdom. Among the distributed products is the company's own line of generic drugs, which are manufactured by third-party suppliers and sold under the Almus brand. The history of Boots Group extends back to the opening of a small shop in Goosegate, Nottingham, in 1849, while Alliance UniChem was itself the product of a 1997 cross-border merger of UniChem PLC and Alliance Santé S.A., companies whose roots date back to 1938 and 1976, respectively.
JESSE BOOT, FOUNDING FATHER
Jesse Boot, the founder of the company, was born in Nottingham in 1850, the first child and only son of John Boot and his second wife, Mary. An agricultural laborer by trade, John Boot was much influenced by the ideas of popular medicine then current among nonconformists, particularly those of the disciples of the American Samuel Thompson, whose remedies, based on medical botany, were then enjoying considerable success in Britain. After John Boot's health broke down, he opened a