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WBA sales rise as Boots hails 'strong' online growth

Sophie Smith
28 March 2024

Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) has reported an increase in quarterly sales, helped by online growth and "strong" demand for beauty and skincare at Boots UK.

The company saw overall sales rise 6.3% to £29.3 billion ($37.1 billion) in the second quarter ending 29 February 2024, reflecting growth across all segments.

The international segment, which covers Boots and WBA's German wholesale business, saw sales increase 6.6% to £4.7 billion ($6 billion).

Sales at Boots grew 3%, with comparable pharmacy sales up 1.7% and comparable retail sales up 5.9% against the previous year, reflecting growth across all categories and an increased total retail market share.

Meanwhile, online sales at Boots continued to perform "strongly", growing 16.8% and representing over 17% of the retailer's total sales.

Growth was also supported by continued "strong" demand for beauty and skincare at Boots, with the opening of its beauty-only store in Battersea and upgrades to a number of beauty halls.

Seb James, CEO Boots UK & Republic of Ireland, said: "I am really pleased to see our positive momentum continue across the whole business, with more people shopping with us both online and in store, and strong gains in both our key markets of healthcare and beauty."

Sales across WBA's US retail pharmacy segment were up 4.7% compared to the year-ago quarter, while the US healthcare segment increased 33.2%.

However, total net loss reached £4.6 billion ($5.9 billion), versus net earnings of £557 million ($703 million) last year, reflecting non-cash impairment charges.

Tim Wentworth, CEO of WBA, said: "We remain confident in our goal of achieving $1 billion in cost savings this year. We are continuing to strategically review our portfolio over the next three months in an effort to ensure it drives growth and delivers value.

Our team members, led by WBA’s new executive committee with a track record of operational excellence, are powering our progress as we map growth opportunities, aim to create long-term value across our businesses and execute the hard work to simplify and strengthen WBA."

Speculation has mounted for months that WBA might be looking to sell Boots. Reports last year suggested that the company was considering a £7 billion London listing of the high street chain as it looks to offload the business. There was no obvious hint of this in Thursday’s results.

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