The three months to November 30 2021 saw Boots pharmacy sales rise by 8.8 per cent compared to the previous year, parent company Walgreen Boots Alliance has said.
Announcing its performance figures for the first quarter of its financial year, WBA said the increase partly reflected “stronger demand” for pharmacy services.
Retail sales saw an even bigger year-on-year increase of 16.3 per cent, with WBA commenting that footfall in UK high streets had improved but was still below pre-pandemic levels.
Meanwhile, the strong performance of Boots.com during the pandemic has held firm, with online sales “almost doubling compared with the equivalent quarter before Covid-19”. Sales via the website now account for over 15 per cent of all Boots retail sales.
The first quarter of the WBA financial year saw Boots open 27 beauty halls in “regional locations,” the company said, while flu vaccinations during the quarter were up 150 per cent compared to the previous year and Covid booster jabs were offered in more than 80 Boots stores.
WBA’s international segment, of which its UK operations form a dominant part, saw gross profit rise by 21.9 per cent compared to the same quarter in 2020.
The segment saw sales of $5.8bn during the quarter, a 34.2 per cent jump on the same period in 2020 on a constant currency basis. However, most of this was driven by the formation of a new wholesale joint venture in Germany, with pre-existing operations seeing an 8.6 per cent increase in sales.
The publication of these figures comes amid speculation that WBA is seeking to divest itself of Boots UK, with Goldman Sachs reportedly helping it to line up potential buyers. A few days ago private equity company Bain Capital was reported as having made overtures to WBA to acquire the multiple.
Thanking staff for their efforts during the pandemic, Boots UK managing director Seb James said sales were “continuing to increase year on year, along with very encouraging market share growth,” adding that Boots had gained market share from “both traditional and new competitors”.
Mr James added: “Our transformation continues as planned with investment, particularly in digital, our beauty portfolio and healthcare services, aiding a fast-paced recovery from the pandemic.”