Superdrug cuts dividend amid “challenging” climate

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Superdrug dividend
// Superdrug cuts dividend amid “challenging” high street environment
// Superdrug is owned by AS Watson – which is controlled by Three mobile network owner Hutchison Whampoa
// Shareholder payouts have more than halved from £50m to £20m
// The company also drew over £30m in loans from its investors

Superdrug has cut its dividend as the UK’s high street continues to trade in a “challenging” climate.

The health and beauty retailer is owned by Hong Kong-based company AS Watson – which is controlled by Three mobile network owner Hutchison Whampoa.

According to recently filed accounts, shareholder payouts have more than halved from £50 million to £20 million.

The company also drew over £30 million in loans from its investors.

Superdrug’s sales rose by 3.3 per cent to £1.3 billion in the year to December, but the company continued to suffer due to higher staff costs.

The wage bill cost the company at least £12 million despite the number of employees remaining flat at 13,000 across 816 stores.

Meanwhile, pre-tax profit dropped by five per cent to £88 million.

AS Watson bought Superdrug in 2001, and it has since become the UK’s second biggest health and beauty retailer behind Boots.

In 2014, Hutchison Whampoa sold a 25 per cent stake in AS Watson to Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund.

Hong Kong business magnate and billionaire Sir Li Ka Shing owns a 25 per cent stake in Hutchison Whampoa.

Last year, Superdrug increased its market share from 9.2 per cent to 9.8 per cent across core categories including cosmetics, fragrances and skincare “on the backdrop of a tough trading environment”.

Over the course of the year, Superdrug also opened 23 new stores.

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