With Boots the Chemists potentially set to become the retail face of a £13bn pharmacy business, following its merger with Alliance Unichem, what challenges and opportunities could this spell for the Boots brand?

While design groups form a disorderly queue to create Alliance Boots, the business would do well to ask the honest question, ‘What are we here for?’ Creating a new brand and changing faciae up and down the country will be nothing more than an expensive sticking plaster if the core problem remains unsolved. Usurped by supermarket groups, it’s now difficult to see what the Boots offer is, to the extent that, if it didn’t exist tomorrow, you would be hard put to think of a reason to create it. The answer lies somewhere between the credibility of its pharmacy expertise and the value to us all of a community chemist with the buying power and design awareness of a multinational.

Jo O’Driscoll, Managing director, Din Associates

Until now Boots has appeared opportunistic in its growth, flitting from dental practices to opticians to international expansion, with no coherent plan. What Boots needs now more than ever is to present a consolidated business strategy to consumers and the City, which will in turn inform the brand strategy.

Patrick Smith, European chief executive, FutureBrand

The Boots brand will be tested by the merger and it must develop as a market leader or it will disappear to a tertiary brand status. The merger provides the brand with huge opportunities, based upon its core rather than a frenetic rush to be fashionable.

Paul King, Retail director, Vivid Brand

The challenge for Boots is not to be cheaper by being bigger, but to be valued. The merger must be a catalyst for developing a store, product and service culture altogether more relevant to consumer expectations than either Alliance or Boots currently have – a Herculean task!

Rodney Fitch, Chairman, Fitch

In recent months, with the emphasis on ‘trust’ as the key brand message, Boots has found a strong and relevant market positioning. Merging with Alliance Unichem gives Boots the geographical muscle to be a category killer, offering improved healthcare from city to local community networks.

Alison Cardy, Managing director, HMKM

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