Boots Opticians plans to open between 40 and 50 franchised practices over the next year, half of which will be in-store and half will be free-standing. This follows on from the 24 franchised practices that Boots Opticians has already opened and which have generated ?very good? results. The first eight franchised opticians were all in-store, and the following 16 franchised practices were a mix of the in-store and free-standing formats.

The British optical retail chain is keen to further experiment with the free-standing format and to test different environments for further franchises. Boots Opticians is looking for opticians to approach them about opening the franchises and has reported a ?very successful? level of interest but has not disclosed any financial estimates.

In addition to this, Boots Opticians wants to develop a clearer pricing strategy with all-in-one prices for frames and lenses combined, while increasing the visibility of designer frames. Boots Opticians has 290 practices overall, of which half are in-store and half are free-standing. It has refitted 160 practices over the last year and introduced 100 retinal digital imaging cameras.

Boots Opticians claims a market share of 7-8 percent in the highly competitive British retail market. No financial figures are available for the moment, particularly in view of the recent battle for control of its parent company, Alliance Boots, which seems to be over now, marking the biggest acquisition of a publicly traded European company by an investment group if all the shares are tendered.

Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR), a private equity group, appears to have outbid another investment company, Terra Firma, to buy in a deal that values Alliance Boots at £11.1 billion (€16.3bn-$22.1bn). On Apr. 24, after about a month of bidding, the board of Alliance Boots issued a statement saying that KKR's offer of 1,139 pence per share in cash was ?fair and reasonable,? and recommended that shareholders vote in favor of the offer. Terra Firma announced on the same date that it was no longer interested in the British health care group, whose core business is in the sale of pharmaceutical products at wholesale and retail. The share price of Alliance Boots rose by 5.5 percent as a result.

KKR, along with Stefano Pessina, the deputy chairman of Alliance Boots who holds a 15 percent stake in the company, originally bid £10 per share in March ? an offer that was rejected by Boots. Terra Firma came in later with a bid of £10.90 a share, prompting a bidding war with KKR.

A partner at KKR said that the investment firm has no intention of making any job cuts or store closures. On the contrary, KKR said it plans to invest in opening more Boots outlets, and has a commitment to keep its shares in the British company for at least five years. KKR and Pessina together held 29.3 percent of Alliance Boots as of Apr. 24.