US PHARMACY giant Walgreens Boots Alliance, whose international operations’ flagship in the UK is Boots the Chemists, yesterday unveiled strong second-quarter trading and a Stateside branch closure programme.
The company, formed when Walgreens paid $16 billion (£11bn) last December to buy the part of European group Boots Alliance it did not already own, revealed that underlying earnings jumped a third to $1.2bn (£812 million) in the three months to end-February.
Second-quarter sales rose 35.5 per cent to $26.6bn, while the US retail pharmacy arm saw like-for-like sales lift 2.5 per cent.
Same floorspace sales climbed 2.9 per cent in the international arm of Walgreens Boots Alliance, which as well as Boots in the UK, Thailand, Norway and the Republic of Ireland, includes Benavides in Mexico and Ahumada in Chile.
The pharma wholesale division, which operates under the Alliance Healthcare brand, had flat underlying sales. Monaco-based billionaire Stefano Pessina, executive vice chairman and acting chief executive of the company, said: “This quarter market a solid start for our new company, and I remain as optimistic as ever about our long-term future.”
It came as Illinois-based Walgreens announced it is to close about 200 US stores as America’s biggest drugstore chain expands the $1bn cost reduction plan it unveiled last August. Pessina said extra cost savings of $500m were now expected.
The store closures amount to 2 per cent of the 8,232 outlets it runs in the United States, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Pessina angered the UK Labour Party recently in the run-up to the general election by saying it was promoting unspecified policies that would lead the UK to “catastrophe”. Chuka Umunna, the shadow business secretary, said that the electorate was unlikely to listen to someone who did not live or pay tax in the UK.