Boots the chemist is sending a major purchasing delegation to Tel Aviv next month to buy innovative products from Israel’s healthcare manufacturers.
The company is also understood to be negotiating with New Pharm, Israel’s second-largest pharmacy chain, to rebrand the shops as Boots Israel.
New Pharm currently has 56 stores throughout Israel and 30 concessions in Hamashbir Lazarchan department stores.
New Pharm had sales of £131 million in 2007, and according to reports, the chain would become Boots Israel on a franchise basis, with the stores selling the full range of Boots own-label products.
Daniella Reisenbach, spokesperson for Rami Shavit, chief executive and owner of New Pharm and Hamashbir Lazarchan, refused to comment on the rumours.
A spokesperson for Boots Alliance was equally evasive.
“We do not operate any pharmacy or wholesale activity at present in Israel and we do not comment on market speculation.”
However, there is no secret about Boots’s desire to increase purchases from Israeli suppliers.
The Boots mission to Israel was initiated by Gil Erez, trade attaché at the Israeli embassy in London.
Mr Erez said: “We organised a Boots delegation of around 10 or 11 people. On June 18, we will have a seminar for them in Tel Aviv, and for the next day-and-a-half they will have meetings with different companies.
“We are currently selecting which companies they are going to meet. More than 60 companies have already applied to meet the delegation and more are still applying every day.
“We have already confirmed meetings with over 25 companies, but they will see at least 30. The delegation are looking for innovative companies and products, especially in the medical field.”
Lital Frankel Porat, a spokesperson for the Israel Export and International Co-operation Institute, which is co-ordinating the Boots delegation’s itinerary in Israel, said that the meetings between the UK buyers and Israeli suppliers would take place in her organisation’s offices.
“At present we can only reveal the names of two Israeli suppliers that they will be meeting,” she said. “Ahava and CTS.”
Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories, which already supplies Boots, produces cosmetics products based on Dead Sea minerals.
CTS Chemical Industries manufactures pharmaceuticals and medical devices.