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Boots disappoints market with poor start to sales

SHARES in Boots, the chemist group, which also owns Halfords and Childrens World, fell 23.5p to 522p yesterday as first-quarter sales figures disappointed the City, writes Heather Connon.

Sir Christopher Benson, addressing his last annual meeting as chairman, said sales at Boots the Chemist in the three months to June were 4.2 per cent ahead of last year. That compares with 5.4 per cent for the year to March.

Sir Christopher, who has handed the chairmanship to Sir Michael Angus, said toiletry sales had been affected by bad weather at the start of the quarter but added: 'Good weather brings more of our customers out on to the high street and this benefits sun-tan products as well as other product categories, notably toiletries and baby products.' That had boosted sales in the last few weeks of the quarter and the increase was continuing into July.

Elsewhere in the group, trading was patchy. While Childrens World increased sales by 19.4 per cent, all but 0.9 per cent of that was due to new space.

Do It All, the joint venture with WH Smith that has long been a poor performer, is suffering a 5.3 per cent decline in sales.

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