The long history of Boots the chemist

LONDON (Reuters) - The battle for Alliance Boots has brought forth bids approaching 11 billion pounds, probably rather more than John Boot would have imagined when he began the business nearly 160 years ago. Here are the salient dates of one of Britain’s oldest companies:

1849 - Boot opens a herbalist shop in Goose gate, Nottingham.

1877 - His son Jessie Boot joins the business, opens his first chemist shop and hires bell-ringers to go around the streets advertising the fact that his goods were cheaper than those of his rivals. Trade boomed.

1896 - By now Jessie owned 60 shops in 28 different towns, offering prescriptions, which, previously, doctors used to make up themselves.

1914-18 - The company supplies vermin powder and anti-fly cream to troops in the trenches during World War One.

1989 - Boots spends 900 million pounds to take over Ward White, owners of Halfords and the Payless DIY chain. The move to diversify was not successful and they were later sold off.

July 2006 - Struggling with competition from supermarkets Tesco and Asda, Boots merges with Alliance UniChem in a 7 billion pound deal to form Alliance Boots.