Boots sales – both online and off – staged a recovery as UK retail started to emerge from lockdown measures. The retailer was a key supplier of Covid-19 tests in the UK, while shoppers also bought more from it online and in its stores.
Boots’ parent company Walgreen Boots Alliance today reported third-quarter sales of $34bn (£24.7bn), 12.1% up on the same time last year. The growth, it says reflected strong international growth – sales in its international division grew by 75.8% to $5.3bn (£3.85bn) – and the set-up of its Germany joint venture. Net earnings of $1.9bn (£1.4bn) in the three months to May 31 were up from $83m (£60m) a year earlier.
The international business includes Boots, where like-for-like pharmacy sales grew by 3.7% on last time, and retail sales by 38.7% as high street footfall started to recover alongside lockdown easing. Online sales grew by 42.3%, nonetheless. Gross profit at Boots grew by 55% on last time. However, while high street footfall is recovering, its travel stores in airports and train stations still “face challenges”.
Boots now stocks more than 500 beauty brands, after 34 new brands were launched during the year.
Walgreen Boots Alliance chief executive Rosalind Brewer says: “This quarter’s results demonstrate continued momentum, and while challenges lie ahead, we are in a strong position to grow and innovate our core retail and pharmacy businesses for the future. We are accelerating our investments to advance our operational excellence, including technology innovations that support mass personalisation, pharmacy of the future and the next phase of growth in tech-enabled healthcare. These investments are fuelled by our Alliance Healthcare divestiture. I remain proud of our team members and the essential role they are playing to help end the pandemic as the communities we serve continue to turn to our trusted brands and expert pharmacists.”
Elsewhere, the business said that moves to increase digitalisation in the group’s Walgreens business had boosted retail sales. Its Walgreens Find Care platform saw 135m visits in the quarter, driven by Covid-19 testing and vaccinations, while it also says that mass personalisation boosted its retail sales by 100 basis points during the quarter. Membership of its MyWalgreens scheme now stands at 75m, up from 56m in the second quarter.