Sunday 23 July 2017

Alliance Boots posts billion-pound profit

Alliance Boots, Britain's biggest pharmacy chain, posted annual profits of more than £1bn (€1.16bn) yesterday, becoming only the third UK retailer to pass that milestone.

But the company said its Boots business here was the only one of its international businesses that did not record an increase in profits.

The group, taken private in 2007 in Europe's biggest leveraged buyout, said strong growth in own-brand products like No7 cosmetics and in its international wholesale operations would help it cope with tough markets across Europe.

"We're certainly not expecting the economy to improve at all. We're budgeting for a subdued environment," chief executive Andy Hornby said.

"Nevertheless, we believe we're competing in attractive markets and our formula is working."

Retailers across Europe are struggling in a sluggish economic recovery and fear that steps to rein in government borrowing could hit consumer demand in the months ahead.

Also yesterday, Swedish fashion group Hennes & Mauritz reported a drop in underlying April sales, while Britain's Travis Perkins said the home improvement market was fragile.

Market return

Alliance Boots, bought in 2007 for about £11bn by private equity firm KKR and billionaire executive chairman Stefano Pessina, said trading profits rose 12.7pc to £1.07bn in the year ended March 31. Supermarket group Tesco and Marks & Spencer are the only other British retailers to have annual profits of over £1bn.

Mr Hornby, who led HBOS before it was bought by Lloyds in a UK government-brokered rescue, declined to say when Alliance Boots might return to the stock market. (Reuters)

Irish Independent

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