Own­ers grow but Boots on the slide

The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire) - - BUSINESS - BY HENRY SAKER-CLARK

Boots has posted slid­ing sales in the UK as its US-based owner hailed over­all growth for the past year.

The UK re­tail busi­ness saw sales slip 2.1% over the fourth quar­ter to Au­gust 31, af­ter like­for-like phar­macy sales de­clined 1%.

UK sales were hit by lower vol­umes and a de­crease in NHS fund­ing, as it strug­gled in “chal­leng­ing” re­tail con­di­tions.

Wal­greens Boots Al­liance saw group an­nual sales jump 4.1% to 136.9bil­lion US dol­lars (£106.7bn) as it was buoyed by a strong fourth quar­ter which sur­passed ex­pec­ta­tions.

Sales for the three months to Au­gust in­creased by 1.5% to $34bn (£26.5bn), while

“It main­tained mar­ket share as com­peti­tors also saw sales wane”

op­er­at­ing prof­its fell by 20.5% to $5bn (£3.9bn).

The US re­tail phar­macy divi­sion posted a 2.1% rise in sales to $26bn (£20.2bn) for the quar­ter as the vol­ume of pre­scrip­tions in­creased against the same pe­riod in 2018.

How­ever, the group was pres­surised by fall­ing in­ter­na­tional sales, which slumped 6.3% to $2.7bn (£2.1 bn) as it was weighed down by cur­rency weak­ness.

The fall was also par­tic­u­larly driven by weaker sales in the UK for the pe­riod, which were made worse by weak­ness in the pound.

Like-for-like re­tail sales in the UK fell by 2.7%, although the com­pany said Boots main­tained its mar­ket share as high street com­peti­tors also saw sales wane.

Lower re­tail sales and mar­gins in the UK weighed on prof­its for the in­ter­na­tional arm, with ad­justed gross prof­its fall­ing 5.4% over the quar­ter.

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