Thursday, September 10, 1998 Published at 11:02 GMT 12:02 UK
Boots to launch dental clinics
Boots is expanding into the dental business
Boots the Chemists is to start up dental clinics in its stores and on the high street.
Boots announced that it will start up six trial dental clinics, offering a mixture of NHS and private services, from April 1999.
Some will be in its larger stores and others will be new dental clinics on the high street.
The location of the six trial clinics has yet to be announced.
The announcement comes after Boots acquired a Dental Body Corporate, Wilson's Dentistry Limited, for £250,000.
This allows it to operate a chain of dental clinics.
Boots will invest £3m of capital and £7m of revenue in the first two years of the trials.
Steve Russell, managing director of Boots, said: "Dentistry in the UK is going through an exciting period of change.
"This move is a necessary first step in a programme to explore thoroughly the opportunities in the corporate dentistry market."
The dental industry in the UK is worth £1.9bn and the market grew by 8% last year.
The dental clinics will offer a full range of treatments and, according to a Boots spokeswoman, will not push Boots products.
"Our aim is to make dental care more accessible. Boots has always been known for health and beauty. This is just an extension of our health care service," she said.
"Most dentists now offer a small range of products for sale. Our clinics will reflect that level.
"We will not be heavily marketing any particular products."
She added that private dental services would be offered at "competitive rates", which fit in with Boots' ethos of offering "value for money".
Part of the purpose of the trials is to test what mix of NHS and private care the public want.
Dr Martin Fallowfield, chairman of the British Dental Association's private practice committee, said he didn't think Boots' action would threaten smaller dentists.
He said: "It won't make that much difference. Dentistry is a personal thing. A lot of people have a personal relationship with their practice.
"It will only really affect people who are moving town and changing their dentist," he said.
He doubted whether Boots would undercut other private dentists and said its clinics might encourage the 50% of people who don't visit the dentist regularly to have a check-up.
Boots is by no means the largest company to acquire a Dental Body Corporate (DBC).
One group has employed 180 dentists. Around three of the major supermarket groups are also thought to have expressed an interest, although none has so far acquired a DBC.
Boots' annoucment follows a statement around four months ago that the company is to set up GP surgeries in some of its stores.
The first trials of GP surgeries, to be launched in partnership with Sinclair Montrose Healthcare, are to begin before the end of the year.