Meet Sebastian James, Boots UK CEO

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Up next in our ‘meet the CEO’ series is Sebastian James. To find out more about the ambitious businessman and whether Boots franchises in the UK, look no further than this article.

Boots is one of the staples of the British high street. Ever wondered who’s behind the trusted retail brand? Well, read on to discover more about Boots’ ambitious CEO, Sebastian James.

Who is Boots’ CEO, Sebastian James?

sebastian james

Sebastian James is a relatively new addition to the Boots leadership team, having acted as President and Managing Director of the health and beauty chain since September 2018.

Joining Boots, Sebastian James took over from Elizabeth Fagan, who had led the business since 2016. In addition to managing Boots UK, Sebastian James is Senior Vice President of Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc., an American holding company that owns Boots, Walgreens and various other healthcare brands.

Walgreens Boots Alliance is the largest pharmacy, health and daily living retailer in the US and Europe and, taking into account its equity investments, has a presence in over 25 countries and a workforce of over 415,000 people.

What was Sebastian James’ career before joining Boots?

Sebastian James has an impressive CV and has worked for a number of prestigious businesses in the past. Moving to Boots from Dixons Carphone plc., which operates brands such as Currys PC World and Carphone Warehouse, Sebastian James has plenty of experience in leading big-name companies.

Sebastian James worked as CEO of Dixons Carphone for six years and has been Independent Non-Executive Director of Direct Line Group since 2014. In addition to this, Sebastian James has been a trustee of charities such as Save the Children. Prior to working for Dixons Carphone, Sebastian James acted as CEO of Synergy Insurance Services and Silverscreen Holdings, after starting out in management consultation with The Boston Consulting Group and Bain & Company.

According to James:

With Boots I am in this incredibly privileged position at this extraordinary British icon with 170 years of history.

Sebastian James is spearheading lots of exciting changes with the brand, including magic mirrors, expert make-up artists and beauty halls!

He continued:

'Our other big advantage we have is a very high degree of trust. Our retail brand is very powerful, particularly for women. We have a much more intimate relationship with our customers.'

What is Boots?

With around 2,500 stores across the UK, Boots is one of the UK’s leading health and beauty retailers. The store builds upon its core business objective: ‘To be the first choice for pharmacy, health and beauty – caring for people, customers and communities everywhere’.

How did it all start?

Growing from its initial model as a herbalist in the mid-1800s, Boots has expanded to comprise a number of services, including Boots Pharmacy, Boots Opticians, Boots Hearingcare and Boots Photo. The high street store also stocks a number of exclusive skincare and cosmetics ranges, including No7, Soap and Glory and Liz Earle.

More than just a haven for health and beauty products

The healthcare brand has more than 500 Boots Hearingcare locations and over 600 dedicated Boots Opticians practices. This is a business at the top of its game, employing 56,000 people nationwide, 6,500 of which are qualified pharmacists. What’s more, it is estimated that 90 percent of the population is less than a 10-minute drive away from a Boots outlet.

And plenty of consumers are making the most of its offering. In fact, 14.4 million people in the UK are active members of Boots’ Advantage Card scheme, benefitting from significant discounts after earning Advantage points.

Does Boots franchise?

There are currently no opportunities for investors to open their own standard Boots store, but potential franchisees do have the chance to get involved in the brand by partnering with Boots Opticians.

A total investment of £160,000 is required to get the store up and running and guidance will be provided by Boots’ franchise support team, who assist new franchisees with site selection, lease negotiation, store design and local marketing campaigns. If this isn’t the right fit, investors could instead consider starting a franchise in the beauty sector. Our top pick is Guinot.

Beauty franchise opportunity with Point Franchise


Guinot is one of the leading beauty products suppliers across the globe. Born in 1972, Guinot looked to the franchise model as a way of rapid expansion in 2010. There are now over 210 franchise locations helping customers achieve their beauty needs across the globe.

The brand’s product range includes everything from facial beauty to hair removal. There’s also a beauty specialist on hand to offer a personalised beauty consultation and prescription. The bfa-accredited franchise won the title of the ‘Best Anti-Ageing Supplier’ in the 2017 Guild Awards.

  • Becoming a Guinot franchisee: It isn’t necessary to have any experience in the health and beauty industry, just the passion to drive the business forward and a willingness to learn. You can discuss the locations you’d like to occupy with the franchisor - up to 10 outlets are expected.
  • How much you need to invest: If you’re interested, you’ll need to have access to a start-up cost of between £85,000 and £125,000.
  • What you get for your investment: As part of the initial training programme, you will learn everything from daily operations, to marketing, to salon software. This is on top of a 2-day shadowing operation at one of the existing salons. To make sure you’re always up to date, the beauty retailer runs refresher seminars throughout the year.

Start your own health retailer - one day you could be CEO!

If you want to follow in Sebastian James’ footsteps, a great way to make your mark in the beauty retailer industry is to start a franchise. You can browse our full list of beauty franchises here and don’t forget to keep in mind our official franchise start up checklist. See more of our CEO articles here:

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