Boots UK sales struggle despite better than expected results for parent company

The beauty retailer’s sales for Q1 were down 9% but Walgreens Boots Alliance reported overall sales were 6% up

Boots has reported disappointing Q1 figures as the UK approaches one year since the first confirmed case of Covid-19 was detected in the country.

To kick off 2021, the UK healthcare and beauty retailer announced a 9% dip in its comparable sales compared with a year ago, in spite of being allowed to remain open throughout the pandemic.

While the dip in sales is only a third of what the retailer reported for fiscal 2020, with a 29% downturn, the results could be a projection of difficulties to come as the UK negotiates through another national lockdown.

Despite reporting increased footfall in September and October, Boots had its recovery plans scuppered at the end of 2020 following the re-introduction of tighter restrictions in many parts of the UK throughout November and later in December.

Some of the retailer’s reduced footfall has been offset online with sales up more than 100% compared with 2020.

However, while Boots has struggled to offer its parent company any excess cash in recent months, Walgreens Boots Alliance has reported better than expected sales for the quarter.

The US headquartered company saw an 5.7% increase to US$36.3bn, maintaining its guidance of low single-digit growth for the period.

“Our first quarter results exceeded expectations as we continue to deliver on our strategic priorities,” said Walgreens Boots Alliance’s Executive Chairman and CEO Stefano Pessina.

“While the business environment remains challenging, we are rising to the occasion with agility and discipline, and we are confident in our outlook for adjusted EPS for the fiscal year.

“Our role in the healthcare system has never been more important as the communities we serve continue to turn to our trusted brands and expert pharmacists.

“I am so proud of our teams and the historic and critical role they are playing to help the world emerge from the pandemic, administering Covid-19 vaccinations to frontline healthcare workers and vulnerable members of our society.”

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