Boots stores report wider North-South trade divide
Alliance Boots, the retail and wholesale pharmaceuticals giant, revealed a sharp divide between trading at its stores in the South of England, including London, and the rest of the country.
The owner of the Boots chain said revenues had risen by 31.3 per cent to £11.74bn, powered by its pharmaceutical wholesale division's two acquisitions in Turkey and Germany last year.
But in the UK, Boots's like-for-like retail sales rose by only 0.7 per cent, including VAT, in the half -year to 30 September.
The finance director, George Fairweather, said: "In London and the South, we are seeing the economy being stronger and footfall on the high street relatively stronger in the South than in perhaps areas, such as Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland and the North of England."
He explained that because shoppers in these areas were being hit by a larger proportion of public-sector job cuts, they were struggling more with high inflation, rising petrol prices and soaring energy costs. Nevertheless, Boots UK's dispensing volumes rose by a healthier 1.8 per cent on a like-for-like basis. The group's health and beauty division – which has shops in countries including Thailand and the Netherlands – grew revenues by 0.4 per cent to £3.65bn over the half-year.
Andy Hornby, the former head of the rescued bank HBOS, left his job as chief executive of Alliance Boots in March. The company said two months later that he was too "stressed" to continue.
But Mr Fairweather said Alliance Boots – which was taken private in 2007 in a £11.4bn deal backed by the private equity giant KKR – had "no current plans" to start a search for a new chief executive.
The engine room of Alliance Boots's growth was its pharmaceutical wholesale arm, which grew revenues by 47.7 per cent to £8.84bn. This was largely driven by it acquiring Hedef Alliance, a Turkish pharmaceuticals wholesaler, and the Germany pharma specialist, Anzag, last year.
"We are continuing to look for acquisitions in emerging markets," Mr Fairweather said, adding that talks were "progressing" with Nanjing Pharmaceutical Group to take a stake in the Chinese wholesaler.
- 4 #JeSuisEd: People share photos of themselves eating awkwardly in solidarity with Labour leader
- 5 Women think Irish men are the sexiest, survey finds
Italian police 'reveal' what Jesus looked like as a young boy
Mysterious 'X-Files' sounds heard miles above the Earth
Florida couple forced to register as sex offenders for having sex on public beach
Who should I vote for in the general election? Take The Independent's interactive quiz to find out which party is the right choice for you
General election: Conservatives mocked online over Boris Johnson's claim of SNP 'jockalypse'
In defence of liberal democracy
General Election 2015: Post-election 'shambles' looms as 70 per cent of voters say SNP 'should not be able to veto UK government policies'
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
General election live: SNP suspends two members for disrupting Labour rally
General Election 2015: Sturgeon claims Scots 'appalled' by Ed Miliband's refusal to work with SNP
iJobs Money & Business
£60000 - £70000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...
£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...
£27 - 35k + Bonus + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Management Accountant is needed ...
£40-50k + Benefits.: Guru Careers: A Project Manager / Business Analyst is nee...