Belfast Telegraph

NHS funding cuts blamed as Boots' UK sales slide

By Henry Saker-Clark

Retail pharmacy firm Boots has suffered a sales dip of 2.1% over the fourth quarter.

The UK business' like-for-like pharmacy sales also declined by 1%.

Lower volumes and a decrease in NHS funding, as well as "challenging" retail conditions, were blamed for the decreases.

Like-for-like retail sales in the UK fell by 2.7% at the company, which has 80 stores here, although the retailer maintained its market share as high street competitors also saw sales wane.

In July Boots confirmed plans to shut down around 200 stores over the next 18 months, placing thousands of jobs at risk, and in August it closed its Saintfield Road local pharmacy shop.

UK managing director Seb James said the store closures will primarily focus on local pharmacy branches in areas where it has other stores nearby.

Stefano Pessina, executive vice chairman and chief executive of Walgreens Boots Alliance, said: "We are pleased to report fiscal 2019 results in line with our previously stated guidance despite a challenging operating environment."

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Mr Pessina said he was "encouraged" by more positive results in the US, where group sales jumped 4.1% to $137.9bn (£107bn).

Belfast Telegraph