Boots is putting one of its best-known personal care brands up for sale, even as Britain’s biggest high street chemist itself faces being taken over in 2022.
Sky News understands that Boots is preparing to sound out potential bidders for Aromatherapy Associates, which it bought in 2014.
The deal does not involve the retailer’s other wholly owned brands, many of which sit within a separate subsidiary named after its No7 beauty products label.
Aromatherapy Associates was founded in 1985 by Geraldine Howard and Sue Beechey, and expanded to offer a broad range of essential oil-based products.
Industry sources said the business would not be expected to fetch more than “a few tens of millions of pounds” in an auction, although a more precise valuation was unclear on Friday.
Boots declined to comment.
Last week, Sky News revealed that Walgreens Boots Alliance was preparing to launch a strategic review of Boots with advisers from Goldman Sachs.
That process is expected to involve bidders being asked to table offers for the 172-year-old health and beauty retailer during the first half of next year.
Spinning the chain off into a separately listed company is also a possibility, they added.
A full-blown auction of Boots would be among the most significant deals involving a high street chain for years, and will draw close scrutiny in Whitehall, given Boots’ critical nationwide role in delivering public healthcare services.
Boots operates a network of 2200 stores – one of the largest in Britain – and employs 55,000 people, making it one of the country’s biggest private sector employers.
A sale could value Boots at somewhere between £5bn and £10bn.