Boots bounces back as retail recovers

High street name reports rising sales as UK navigates to end restrictions from Covid-19

High street pharmacy chain Boots is making a financial recovery after a difficult few months of trading.

The beauty retailer’s owner Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) reported in its third quarter results that Boots’ comparable retails were up almost 40% (38.7%), compared with the three months in 2020, as high street footfall shows signs of improvement.

Despite Boots being able to remain open throughout the course of the pandemic, visitors in-store were down due to England’s third country-wide lockdown from January until the end of March.

Non-essential retail was given the green light to reopen on 12 April.

However, during the months of lockdown and reduced footfall, Boots was able to trade successfully through its online platform, boots.com, which saw sales growth of 42.3% compared with results from a year ago.

Overall, operating income for all of WBA’s names increased just over 12% to US$340bn, while sales rose 7% for the three months.

To reflect its successful trading period, WBA has raised its guidance to around 10% growth for the remainder of 2021.

“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,” said Rosalind Brewer, WBA’s CEO.

“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 and tech-enabled healthcare.”

She continued: “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.”

Boots has proven a problem child for WBA throughout the course of the pandemic, with disappointing sales dips and plans for recovery scuppered at the end of 2020 following the re-introduction of restrictions across England.

For 2021 Q1 the retailer’s comparable sales dipped 9% compared with 2020; although this was an improvement on its fiscal 2020 results, which saw sales downturn 29%.

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