Boots owner beats expectations as UK pharmacy chain strengthens

·2-min read
Sales at Boots grew significantly over the latest three-month period (David Parry/PA) (PA Archive)
Sales at Boots grew significantly over the latest three-month period (David Parry/PA) (PA Archive)

Boots owner Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) said it has exceeded its expectations for the latest quarter as it was buoyed by a strong showing by its UK business of Covid-19 vaccinations.

The US pharmacy group told investors on Thursday that it will therefore raise its financial guidance for 2022.

WBA said it was significantly boosted by Covid-19 vaccinations and testing across sites during the three months to November, while it also reported higher flu vaccinations.

The group reported that first quarter sales from continuing operations increased by 7.8% to 33.9 billion dollars (£25 billion).

WBA’s international retail pharmacy operation – which includes Boots – saw a 35.8% rise in quarterly sales to 5.8 billion dollars (£4.3 billion).

Our transformation continues as planned with investment, particularly in digital, our beauty portfolio and healthcare services, aiding a fast-paced recovery from the pandemic

Sebastian James, managing director at Boots UK

It also highlighted 16.3% like-for-like retail sales growth across its Boots UK business, as it was boosted by the easing of pandemic restrictions.

The company said it benefited from a 12% increase in the size of customers’ baskets, while online sales also continued to grow.

Boots like-for-like pharmacy sales rose 8.8% as they were boosted by stronger demand for services such as Covid-19 travel testing.

Sebastian James, managing director at Boots UK, said: “Boots delivered another strong performance this quarter with both retail and pharmacy sales continuing to increase year on year, along with very encouraging market share growth.

“Our transformation continues as planned with investment, particularly in digital, our beauty portfolio and healthcare services, aiding a fast-paced recovery from the pandemic.

Covid restrictions continue to create headwinds for the UK high street but we remain focused on delivering for our customers.

“We are proud to support communities with testing, vaccinations and a range of healthcare services as more and more people choose their local pharmacy as their first port of call when feeling unwell. I want to thank all our team members for their continued extraordinary efforts.”

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