A special event took place yesterday in Cardiff to celebrate the 120th anniversary of Boots in Wales.
A selected group of current and former colleagues from across Wales were joined by representatives from business organizations and the health sector at the National Assembly for Wales at the Pierhead Building to talk about their experiences within Boots, focusing on their length of service and community work.
The Cabinet Secretary for the Economy and Infrastructure Ken Skates AM at the event
Andy Francis MRPharmS, Head of Customer Experience, Wales, Boots UK, said: “We are very proud of our long history in Wales and the evolution of our pharmacy and healthcare services from a single store on Oxford Road in Swansea, to having a major presence in towns and cities across the country. Delivering healthcare and supporting our local community is at the heart of what we do and this celebratory event was a chance for us to thank our healthcare partners and colleagues who do so much to care for customers and patients every day."
The celebration was jointly sponsored by two Assembly Members, the Plaid Cymru AM for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr Adam Price AM and the Labour AM for Delyn, Hannah Blythyn, who were joined at the event by Boots key charity partners, Macmillan Cancer Support and BBC Children in Need, as well as Boots Opticians and Boots Hearingcare.
Boots UK's first store in Wales opened on Oxford Road in Swansea 120 years ago in 1896. There are now 114 stores and 2,800 Boots colleagues working in the heart of communities across Wales, making it one of the largest employers of trained healthcare professionals in the country outside the NHS, offering pharmacy, opticians and hearing care services.
Serving Wales for 120 Years: The History of Boots in Wales
- The company opened its first store in Wales on Oxford Road in Swansea in 1896. This store was destroyed and rebuilt following enemy action during World War 2. In 1979, the store relocated to St Mary’s Arcade in the Quadrant, where it remains open today as one of our large flagship stores. The oldest stores still operating in the same locations in Wales are Taff Street, Pontypridd, and Commercial Street, Aberdare, both of which opened in 1897 and have been serving their local communities for almost 120 years. By 1930 there were 38 stores throughout Wales, and today the figure stands at 114.
- Many Boots stores in towns and cities in Wales, including Bangor, Cardiff and Swansea, had Boots Booklovers libraries. Before public libraries were common, Boots offered a book lending service for customers, encouraging reading for those who couldn’t afford to buy books. The libraries in Cardiff and Prestatyn were particularly popular, remaining open until the service closed in 1966.
- The Welsh link is maintained today in the Boots leadership team, by Cardiff-born Marc Donovan, who began his career at Boots in 1996 as a pre-registration pharmacist. After working for Boots, and then the NHS for a few years, he became its Head of HR for Healthcare, and now holds the position of Chief Pharmacist at Boots UK.
- Between 2007 and 2012 Boots collaborated with the University of Swansea to create the multi-million pound Boots Centre for Innovation (BCI), which was designed to help researchers, inventors and entrepreneurs from around the world to develop new products. Innovations that came out of this work include DuoFertility, an advanced fertility monitor developed in collaboration with the University of Cambridge, and intense pulsed light hair removal products developed in collaboration with the University of Swansea itself.
- The Boots Hearingcare business also has its roots in Wales. Founded as David Ormerod Hearing Centres in 1961, it has gone on to vide private hearing aid services through clinics based in NHS hospitals and high street locations. The company is now jointly owned by Boots and Sonova Partnership and retains its head office in Llandudno, where it employs around 200 people.