Boots has decided to close its laser eye correction, dentistry, chiropody and laser hair removal businesses as part of its ongoing strategy to concentrate on Boots The Chemists. The group said that, despite improvements in productivity, these businesses had been deemed unlikely to generate acceptable revenues and profits.

The British group insists that the exit plans will not impact on Boots Opticians, which will now be managed as a significant part of Boots The Chemists. The reorganization will result in around 850 personnel layoffs, including 12 surgeons and about 100 other staff people in Boots' nine LASIK centers.

Closing the four ?extended health care? businesses is expected to cost the group around £55 million (€81m-$66m), of which £29 million (€43m-$52m) will be asset writeoffs. The group hopes that this will improve future operating profit. The four businesses together occupy a space of 15,000 square meters, which will be converted into retail trading space during 2005/2006.

The group intends to close its nine laser eye correction practices by Dec. 31, 2004. Although no new patients will be taken on, patients who have already booked eye correction or who require after-surgery care will continue to be treated. Boots moved into laser eye surgery four years ago, planning to set up a nationwide chain of 12 centers. Laser refractive surgery suffered from negative publicity in the UK last year, with the press indicating that the equipment used by Boots was the target of a lawsuit in the USA.