If Jesse were alive today, would he give Boots the boot?

Boots has its roots in the mid-19th century when John Boot, an agricultural worker, moved to Nottingham to start a new business.   He opened a small herbalist store on Goose Gate in 1849, from which he prepared and sold herbal remedies.  His business soon proved popular, especially with the working poor of Nottingham’s new industries, who could not afford the services of a doctor.  After John’s death in 1860, his widow, Mary, continued trading, with the help of her young son, Jesse, who became a full partner when he was 21.  The store continued to flourish, and, in 1877, Jesse took sole control.

Jesse Boot

Jesse Boot

“Health for a shilling”

Jesse’s talent for business was soon evident.  He expanded the range of products he sold to include proprietary medicines and household necessities.  He adopted a strategy of buying stock in bulk and selling his goods much cheaper than his competitors, advertising under the slogan “Health for a Shilling”.  Customers flocked to buy his affordable products and his turnover increased rapidly, allowing him to move into larger premises on Goose Gate in 1881.  This was followed by yet more shops in Nottingham and then, in 1884, Jesse’s first shops outside the city, in Lincoln and Sheffield.   In the same year he also employed his first qualified pharmacist to dispense medicines, and oversee the recruitment of others, enhancing the professional reputation of the company.  Jesse’s policy of superior goods at competitive prices delivered with expert care, meant that the Boots name quickly became synonymous with quality, value and service.

“We declare-
For Pure Drugs
For Qualified Assistants
For First-class Shops
For Reasonable Prices
For your Good Health
For our Moderate Profits
We minister to the comfort of the community in a hundred ways.”
Jesse Boot, 1897

“From modest beginnings we are gradually raising to a high pitch that average excellence of equipment and convenience for customers which are the noteworthy features of our establishments, in addition to the good quality of everything we sell.
Jesse Boot, 1898

Contrast Jesse Boots mission statement with the murky, high value boardroom dealings of the company in its’ present form …


Accountants have this to say about HMRC proposals on tax avoidance …


It should be noted that under current tax legislation, namely the Taxes Management Act, The Finance Act and the statutory legislation contained in the Income Tax (Trading and Other Income) Act, tax avoidance is perfectly legal.

It should also be noted, that when George Osborne made changes to the Finance Act, he did not tighten up the tax legislation governing tax avoidance. Why was that do you think?

Well there are two (I think) possible answers to that question;

1) He simply forgot. A plausible explanation especially given his predilection for the old marching powder.


2) He didn’t want to upset the CEOs of the multi million turnover companies because most of them are tory donors and, when this lot are (hopefully) kicked out on their arses in May 2015, they will be knocking on the doors of these companies for directorships and consultancies.

The other thing to consider is HMRC.

Since the tories came to power, they have consistently and with no good cause, made savage cuts to the public sector, including HMRC.

The number of experienced HMRC inspectors, who are able to identify and analyse tax avoidance schemes has dramatically reduced.

Contrast that if you will, with these corporate scrounging companies, who can afford to employ roomfuls of top drawer accountants and lawyers who can find the loopholes in tax legislation and use it to the advantage of the company.

HMRC have realised that they don’t have enough inspectors to undertake compliance activity on companies, so they have recently recruited some. However, the training takes about 4 years and the trainee inspector then has to consolidate their training with up to 2 years practical experience. So that is approximately 6 years before they are up and running and ready to tackle the avoidance schemes.

These corporate scroungers affect us all.

The tax lost through the avoidance schemes means that the tax gap widens, so there is a lack of money to fund the NHS, education and policing. 

The staff working for Boots and the like are very often paid National Minimum Wage (or just above it) this means they receive tax credits to top up their pay (funded by the public purse of course)

Most of these staff have been educated in the UK, paid for by the public purse (again) and those companies benefit from that.

These companies, like Boots, often argue that the staff pay Income Tax and National Insurance (NI)… er well durrr yeah, of course they do! Because unlike Boots, they can’t re route their wages through a tax haven to avoid paying tax and NI.

I often feel like saying to these companies when they ring the police to apprehend a shoplifter or ring the Fire Brigade because a fire has broken out in one of their stores, “sorry, because YOU don’t pay tax in the UK, you will have to ring the police and/or fire brigade of the country in which you actually do pay tax!”

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9 Responses to If Jesse were alive today, would he give Boots the boot?

  1. autonomyscotland says:

    Reblogged this on Common Weal.


  2. A6er says:

    Reblogged this on Britain Isn't Eating and commented:
    An excellent post, thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. maggieZed says:

    Reblogged this on Telling it as it is and commented:
    Telling it as it is – Well done- there’s no wriggle room for these companies. What they are doing is just wrong. No ifs or buts.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Bugger (the Panda) says:

    I often feel like saying to these companies when they ring the police to apprehend a shoplifter or ring the Fire Brigade because a fire has broken out in one of their stores, “sorry, because YOU don’t pay tax in the UK, you will have to ring the police and/or fire brigade of the country in which you actually do pay tax!”


    Used to do a lot of work with and for Boots. They always were bottom line driven and very arrogant to boot (joke). We stopped dealing with them as we considered it was not beneficial to us.

    Liked by 1 person

    • BOOTS – The multinational pharmacy – led health chain avoided at least £1.12 billion in tax since being taken over by a private equity firm in 2007, according to a report commissioned by Unite union. This amount would be enough to pay for two years prescription charges in England, the starting wages of 78,000 nurses or 5.2 million ambulance call; makes you think doesn’t it!


      • Bugger (the Panda) says:

        They give money to the Tories in return for being allowed to pay not tax. Offshore money can be put into all sorts of offshore accounts both in the name of the directors, their pals etc.

        Think about that for a moment.

        Brown envelopes are for Labour Councillors and TU Shop Stewards and are soo last Century.

        Liked by 1 person

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