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Local insights fuel WBA’s international success

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NEW YORK — The Retail Pharmacy International division of Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) is growing by adapting its global values to meet the specific needs of consumers in different countries.

“The key to international success in pharmacy-led retailing is to have a clear understanding of the brand value, and then to interpret that value in a locally sympathetic manner,” says Ornella Barra, executive vice president of WBA and president and chief executive officer of Global Wholesale and International Retail at the company.

That ability is becoming a core competency at WBA, which last summer continued its global retail expansion with the acquisition of two major pharmacy networks in Latin America: Farmacias Benavides in Mexico, which has about 1,019 stores, and Farmacias Ahumada in Chile, which has 444 units.

The company also operates stores under the Boots banner in Thailand, Norway and the Netherlands. In addition, it has Boots outlets (operated by franchisees) in the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar.

“We continue to explore expansion opportunities to increase our international footprint,” Barra said.

In the United Kingdom, meanwhile, Boots is responding to changing consumer expectations on a number of fronts. The company has a significantly growing omnichannel business, for example. Boots.com posted revenue growth of more than 30% for the 12 months ended March 31, with significant increases in its “order online and collect in-store” service.

“A majority of online orders are now collected in-store,” says Boots president Simon Roberts, “with many driving repeat transactions in-store on the collect mission.”


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