Thursday 9 May 2013

Anticipating the future with Alliance Boots

At 71, Stefano Pessina is obviously a man in a hurry and, although light on detail, he tends to achieve what he promises.

Given the value, and difficulty, of being able to predict the future, a second-best for NAMs can be to anticipate a  major customer's future situation via a combination of the customer's  'published' plans together with the NAM ‘s commercial logic and common sense...

Essentially, according to the FT, the company works for ‘today’ and ‘tomorrow’

‘Today’ means optimising the Walgreens’ tie-up,  jointly buying in areas of scale, including generic drugs and goods not for resale. They are also preparing for the launch of Boots products in Walgreens’ 8,000 stores, with trials in certain flagship locations. They recently built a potential 23% stake in a pharma wholesaler (More on AmeriSource Bergen moves in FT, here)

From the time of the initial formation of Alliance Boots and the tie-up with Walgreens it was possible to anticipate the inevitable moves of fast  global coverage via acquisition, assembling a combination of scale and influence/power in both retailing and  wholesaling, selling  anything in H&B  goods and services that can be legally sold to shoppers... In practice, this means a combination of acquisitions and partnerships across the globe especially in larger markets like China (Latest moves in FT here)

The future
On balance, suppliers, retailers and wholesalers have to anticipate:
- Completion of the Walgreens’ tie-up in two years
- A customer well advanced in achievement of the global ambitions outlined above
- A company needing to work down its 2012 debt of £7bn by £500m per annum
- All achieved by a company that is surviving an unprecedented global financial crisis that has severely compromised other players in the market

Two questions for NAMs:
- How would you play the trading relationship with your company, if you were in the Boots driving seat?
- What can you do today to anticipate the obvious?

Whither Mr Stefano when Walgreens complete the takeover of Alliance Boots?
With a potential 20% share of the action and being the largest shareholder of a £30bn mkt cap company, we leave you with a quote from the man himself:

“I will probably have a certain influence. But the influence is not due to the shares, the influence is due to the experience, and the value you can bring to the table…..”.

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