• Boots UK retail like-for-likes up 1.8% in three months to February 29 
  • Strong performace for ‘Order & Collect’ service
  • Walgreens Boots Alliance posts 47.3% slump in second-quarter EBIT, while sales jump 13.6%

Boots UK has revealed a 1.8% rise in second-quarter retail like-for-likes, but continues to face a “challenging” environment.

Boots said the sales increase in the three months to February 29 was driven by a “good performance” over Christmas.

Online sales were helped by strong demand for Boots’ ‘Order & Collect’ service, which boosted its online sales, but did not give a figure. Brands including No7, Soap & Glory and Liz Earle also helped the performance.

Boots’ UK like-for-like pharmacy sales rose 3% in the quarter.

The bottom line for the division was not disclosed.

In February Boots revealed a second wave of job cuts in the UK with plans to cut up to 350 assistant store manager roles. It came on top of plans last year to cut 700 back office roles as it looks for efficiencies.

Stefano Pessina, chief executive of Boots’ parent company, Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA), said today: “We continued to make good progress in the quarter in reducing costs and establishing more efficient working practices, which contributed to overall adjusted earnings growth.”

Total retail pharmacy international sales rose 2.3% to US$3.7bn (£2.61bn). The unit covers Boots in the UK, Thailand, Norway, the Republic of Ireland, The Netherlands, Benavides in Mexico and Ahumada in Chile.

On a group basis, WBA reported a 47.3% slump in second-quarter EBIT, while sales jumped 13.6% to US$30.2bn (£21.28bn). The company said the sales rise was “largely due to the full consolidation of Alliance Boots for the entire quarter this year”.

In the US – including Walgreens and Duane Reade – pharmacy sales in the quarter rose 2.1%.

Looking ahead, Pessina added: “We remain on track to achieve our expectations for this fiscal year, as we work to mitigate lower pharmacy reimbursement rates and challenging retail sales environments.”

Last month it emerged that WBA is looking to launch Boots in Australia.