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Lessons from the Edge: Insights from a BAM Practitioner

Jesse Boot
Guest Post from Businessasmission.com. To learn more about Conference, Training, Events and Coaching on Business as Mission offered by them visit their website today.

The iconic British retail business Boots, is now a global chain of pharmacies. The original mastermind of this business empire, Jesse Boot, was a Christian whose business was rooted in a desire to bring positive change to society around him. We can learn principles from those who have gone before about positive, holistic, long term change through business.

There must be a viable, commercial strategy at the core Jesse Boot saw that people who needed medicine often couldn't afford it. Prices were kept artificially high by an elitist industry. Jesse took on the system. He wanted to make medicines available to the masses, but it had to make sense commercially too. Jesse's strategy was to buy in large quantities from wholesalers and to sell at prices well below others in the town. It was a strategy that enabled him to make money, grow a business empire, and transform quality of life at the same time.

Business can directly tackle societies greatest challenges Florence Boot, Jesse's wife was the driving force behind much of Boots business innovation. The Boots realised that illiteracy was a problem in the communities around them, and the average person had little access to books. Florence started up lending libraries within the Boots stores that eventually helped give birth to the lending library system in the United Kingdom.

Business innovation can have a benefit on multiple bottom lines. Boot was a devout Methodist who was concerned by the poverty of the working classes in his city. But innovation in tackling poverty went hand in hand with business innovation. He stocked a growing list of items needed to improve quality of life at affordable prices; clothing, household items, food, as well as medicines. He also treated his own workers in an innovative way for the era; providing days off, outings, social clubs and vocational training.

Jesse Boot was born in 1850 and died in 1931. He took over his late father's store at the age of 13. By the age of 20 he started to expand the business. By 1900 Boots owned a chain of 180 shops which grew to 560 in 1914. Jesse Boot sold out his controlling interest in 1920. By 2012 Alliance Boots plc operated over 3,300 stores globally.

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posted by Justin Forman | 9.10.2012 - 10:39 PM


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