21 August 2000

Rumours are mounting that giant US supermarket group Wal-Mart plans to extend its UK interests with a £6 billion bid for the Boots Group, including its subsidiary cycle and car accessory chain, Halfords.

Wal-Mart, which already owns Britain’s third largest supermarket group, Asda, is said to be especially interested in the possibility of converting Halfords’ out-of-town sites into supermarkets as a way of circumventing planning restrictions on the construction of massive new retail sites.

Both retailers, however, poured cold water on the idea of converting the cycle stores, saying that most are too small for use as supermarkets.

Nonetheless, over the past two years Boots has seen its share price more than halve – from £10.70 to £5.00 – making the group vulnerable to takeover.

News source: The Times (London)