Boots enjoys strong growth as owner hints sale process is only "paused"
Boots owner Walgreens Boots Alliance has only hit the ‘pause’ button on its long-running attempt to sell the UK health and beauty giant rather than ending the process completely as had been thought. But that’s more down the market going cold in the face of a global downturn rather than anything wrong with Boots.
In fact, the UK retailer reported strong fourth-quarter and full-year growth for the period ended 31 August. It said sales exceeded pre-Covid levels, as it enjoyed a footfall rebound in city centres.
US-based WBA’s chief executive Roz Brewer described the decision to shelve the sale as a “pause in the process”. She told a Wall Street analyst that Boots still has “fundamental value… our decision was a reflection of challenging financial market conditions, and the board and I remain confident that the business carries strong fundamental value.”
And value is key at Boots at the moment, which is going all-out to entice shoppers with offers and cut-price deals in the festive season Earlier this week, the retailer said it wanted to make this Christmas its “most affordable ever”.
On Thursday it said retail sales in the final quarter were up 15.2% on a like-for-like basis, with stores near transport hubs seeing a resurgence. Warm weather and a return of travel abroad also buoyed sales, with store transactions up more than 20% in the fourth quarter.
After the pandemic boosted Boots’ online sales, it also said digital platform managed to retain Covid gains, posting sales more than 100% higher than the comparable quarter in 2019.
Sebastian James, UK and Ireland MD of Boots, described the results as “really encouraging,” adding that the retailer’s market share had been increasing. And he said that “we know that cost of living will be a big consideration for everybody and we have frozen 1,500 prices, launched Boots everyday with excellent products for as little as 50p, and massively expanded our Price Advantage scheme.”
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