The Investment Column: Boots card proves a major advantage

IT IS slightly curious that Boots got so much praise yesterday for the success of its loyalty card. After all, Lord Blyth, Boots' chairman, sat on the fence for ages, while other retailers showed what a piece of plastic could do for their turnover, before finally taking the plunge last September. Judging by the boost the Advantage card delivered to sales for the year to March, it's worth asking why Boots didn't get it on the market earlier.

This criticism aside, there's little doubt that the Advantage card has paid off. In just nine months Boots has issued 8 million of the cards, and over the year to March they accounted for 1.8 per cent of the growth in counter sales at Boots the Chemists. Apart from the profit that the card is generating, Boots also gets a wealth of information on spending patterns that it didn't have before.

The chemists chain remains the jewel in Boots' crown, producing like- for-like sales of more than 5 per cent. The Opticians branches, though a relatively small part of the group, stormed ahead with same store sales rising by a fifth. So it's not surprising to hear that the group is increasing its spending on the Opticians chains, while opening a further 30 superstores this year.

In other retail formats, however, success remains as elusive as ever. Halfords lifted like- for-like sales by just 3 per cent, although selling more own-brand goods helped boost profits by 28 per cent. Trading at DIY chain Do It All continued to be dull, with underlying sales up 6 per cent on a same-store basis. Ironically, the loyalty card has failed to catch on here and has been withdrawn.

Boots was keeping mum on reports that financial investors want to buy Do It All, though it would undoubtedly like to sell. However, Boots' growth - and its share price - will continue to depend on the performance of the chemists chain. On profit forecasts of pounds 620m the shares, up 28.5p to 984p yesterday, trade on a forward multiple of 21. Still good value.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Mortgage Advisor - OTE £95,000

£40000 - £95000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

competitive: SThree: Are you passionate about sales?Do you have a keen interes...

Recruitment Genius: Loan Adviser - OTE £30,000

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Assistant / Buyer

£15000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company offers a range of ...

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

How to find gold

Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

Not born in the USA

Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
10 best balsamic vinegars

10 best balsamic vinegars

Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
Wimbledon 2015: Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Serena dispatched her elder sister 6-4, 6-3 in eight minutes more than an hour
Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy