Sales up as retailer invests in modernisation
Boots Group's retail profit before tax has been slashed by 11.4 per cent to£481 million for the year to March 31, as it counts the cost of modernising its store portfolio.

However, the investment has led to increased sales, which grew 2.7 per cent to£5.46 billion, with retail sales up 3.8 per cent to£4.65 billion. Like-for-like sales for the period rose 5.8 per cent. Profit before tax at Boots' healthcare division increased by 8.9 per cent to£87.8 million.

The retailer is in the middle of a share buy-back programme, returning£500 million to shareholders in the year. It is committed to buying back£700 million more.

Boots has also invested£200 million in lowering prices, with more than 3,000 lines cut by an average of 18 per cent.

In addition, the retailer has spent£288 million on store openings and more till points. It opened 47 stores and raised the number of tills in its store estate to 14,000.

Boots Group chief executive Richard Baker said the retailer will continue to focus on customer satisfaction and ranging of products in the coming year. He said: 'Trading remains tough and the first few weeks of the new financial year confirms that demand on the high street remains subdued. We have seen nothing to suggest that we need to change our cautious planning assumptions for sales for the full year. Against this background, further progress will take time, but we are making a real difference as we seek to return Boots to sustainable growth.'