Boots UK Ltd

Boots is probably the UK’s best known chain of high-street pharmacy, health and beauty stores. The company claims to be ‘Championing everyone’s right to feel good.’ But what about those in its supply chain? Do they fit into the brands strap-line?

People

Boots score Ethical Consumer worst rating for Supply Chain Management.

The company has a weak policy for its workers, stating that it opposes child labour and exploitation, and seeks to uphold freedom of association; but making no commitment to ensuring such practices in its supply chain.

Its policy is insufficiently detailed and does not adequately address any of the six key issues that Ethical Consumer considers to be the basis for good supply chain management: forced labour, child labour, freedom of association, discrimination, working hours and living wage.

The company has not published any information on auditing its suppliers, and does not publicly address any difficult issues in its supply chain.

Environment

Despite receiving Ethical Consumer’s middle rating for Environmental Reporting, the company scored poorly for its policies on other environmental issues. 

Boots sells own-brand electrical products, likely to contain the conflict minerals tantalum, tungsten, gold or tin. Mining for these minerals is known to have a significant environmental impact. Despite this, the company has no policy to address its use of these materials. Its supply chain is therefore likely to include unsustainable mining. 

Although the company does have a policy on timber sourcing, it does not adequately exclude illegal timber or timber from unknown sources. Deforestation is still therefore likely to occur in its supply chain.

Animals

Boots score Ethical Consumer’s worst rating for Animal Testing.

The Walgreen Boots Alliance, of which the chain is part, does not itself conduct animal testing. However, its animal testing policy states that its suppliers do "in order to meet legislative and regulatory requirements and protect health. As a result, suppliers of ingredients, components and finished goods used in Walgreens Boots Alliance may have to or continue to carry out tests on animals at the request of regulators." The company also sells brands products from multiple other companies that do test on animals.

Politics

Boots scored poorly in Ethical Consumer’s Anti-Social Finance category.

In 2017, the Walgreens Boots Alliance paid five executives over £1 million. The highest paid of these received in excess of $14 million. Ethical Consumer considers this to be excessive. 

Walgreen International also received Ethical Consumer’s worst rating for likely use of tax avoidance strategies. The company had subsidiaries in Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Delaware, Hong Kong, Jersey, Luxembourg, Singapore, Switzerland, US Virgin Islands, all of which were considered to be tax havens by Ethical Consumer.

Many of these subsidiaries were holding companies or insurance companies, which are high risk company types for tax avoidance.

Walgreens, the US chain owned by the same company, has also received secondary criticism for its tax avoiding practices. The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) published a report in March 2017, looking at just how successful many Fortune 500 corporations had been at using loopholes and special breaks over the past eight years, in order to have paid less than the 35% federal income tax on their U.S. profits - with many having paid nothing at all. Walgreen was one of the companies in the report.

Over the eight year period covered by the report, the company was found to have made US$26,280 million profit, on which it paid US$8,503 million tax. This worked out at a rate of 32.4%.

Image: Boots
  • Ethical Consumer Best Buy: No
  • Boycotts: No

Company information

Company Ethiscore

Company Address:

1 Thane Road West
Nottingham
Notts
NG2 3AA
UK

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Associated brands

  • Boots
  • No7
  • Soap & Glory
  • Botanics

Ownership structure

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