// Walgreens Boots Alliance saw international sales slip on the back of a decline in the UK
// Its international arm, of which Boots is a part, saw like-for-like pharmacy sales rise 0.6% in the 3 months to November 30
// Boots’ overall like-for-like retail sales slipped 3% as Walgreens blamed weak performance
Sales and profits have taken a hit at Boots after the pharmacy chain was struck by a fall in prescription numbers.
The UK retailer’s parent company Walgreens Boots Alliance saw international sales slip on the back of a decline in the UK amid tough conditions for high street retailers.
Walgreens’ international arm saw like-for-like pharmacy sales rise 0.6 per cent in the three months to November 30 on the back of increased reimbursement by the NHS and increased sales of service.
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However, it added these improvements were partly offset by lower prescription volumes in the UK.
Meanwhile, Boots’ overall like-for-like retail sales slipped three per cent as Walgreens blamed weak performance in the UK.
Lower retail sales and profit margins in the UK arm helped to drive a 6.3 per cent slump in gross profit against the same a quarter the previous year.
The sales slump followed a 2.1 per cent decline for UK retail business in the previous quarter amid a challenging retail backdrop.
In July, Boots confirmed plans to shut down around 200 stores over the next 18 months, placing thousands of jobs at risk.
The retailer said the store closures would focus on local pharmacy branches in areas where it has other stores nearby.
Last month, Boots secured a deal to sell Mothercare products after the collapse of the maternity and early childhood retailer.
Meanwhile, Boots’ digital business reported a 12 per cent sales jump in the quarter, although UK like-for-like sales slipped lower.
“I am pleased that we have continued to retain market share in our key categories over a quarter that saw continuing strong market headwinds,” Boots managing director Seb James said.
“Although we declined in like-for like sales this quarter, the work to transform our business is showing promise.”
Walgreens saw total sales increase by 1.6 per cent to $34.3 billion (£26.1 billion) for the most recent quarter and held firm on growth targets for the current financial year.
Chief executive Stefano Pessina said: “We are maintaining our outlook for the year despite a soft first quarter.
“We are confident our strategic plans are the right ones to drive long-term sustainable growth going forward.
“In addition, during the quarter we were very satisfied with the progress made in our transformational cost management programme and with the strong cash flow we delivered.”
with PA Wires