James Fryer’s childhood flashes before him during a visit to a breathlessly anticipated new Boots store.
Taking an interest in, even being obsessed, by what is essentially a drug store might seem peculiar to the uninitiated. But for Brits, what started out as a small family business back in 1849 – with herbal remedies prepared by farm worker John Boot and his wife Mary – has become an institution on UK high streets.
If you were dragged around one of the UK’s 1,500 stores by your mum looking for shampoo and cotton buds on a weekend, then you’ll no doubt have plans to subject your own kids to a similar form of torture. But parents won’t be the only ones continuing the pharmacy phenomenon 5,500km away from where it all began – as well as paracetemol and plasters, one entire wall of the compact Ibn Battuta branch is dedicated to the latest fragrances – including enticing seasonal scents from L’eau D’Issey and Calvin Klein, floral tones from Anais Anais and Kenzo, and designer labels courtesy of Gucci and Ralph Lauren. There is also a decent range of designer hair-care products with Toni & Guy, John Frieda and Charles Worthington leading the pack.
The well-stocked supply of Boots exclusive brands (the Botanics range includes body creams and exfoliators, No7 provides an inexpensive make-up palette, and the Sultan sunscreen range has arrived just in time for the return of beach weather) provide more than enough reasons to peruse the aisles. ‘Three for two’ promotions will remind UK shoppers of home, but the real question on everyone’s lips is whether we’ll be able to start racking up Advantage Points anytime soon? Rumour has it we could be saving up our loyalty points from early next year.
Boots, Ibn Battuta. Tel: (04) 3685936; Village Mall, Dubai. Tel: (04) 3499112. A branch is expected to open at Mall of the Emirates this month.