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Source: Boots

Boots said footfall was up 7% in the quarter

A record-breaking Black Friday helped drive a “strong” first quarter for Boots, with the retailer’s comparable sales up 9.8% year on year.

The growth – which built on an 8.7% rise in sales the previous year – was helped by Black Friday driving Boots’ biggest ever day of online and app sales, alongside a strong store performance, according to the retailer.

Online sales in the three months to 30 November were up 17.5% year on year, contributing 19.2% of total retail sales, and helping make it Boots’ 11th consecutive quarter of market share growth.

Store sales were up over 7% in Black Friday week, with electrical beauty, skincare, premium beauty, No7 and fragrance the top-performing categories.

Footfall was up 7% in the quarter, and all store formats saw year-on-year sales growth, with flagship and travel locations performing particularly well, according to Boots.

The health & beauty retailer said early indications suggested Christmas had also been strong, with the period set to be covered in a quarter two trading update later this year.

First quarter beauty sales were up 11.4%, while healthcare was up 10%, helped by the launch of 10 professional and salon haircare brands to Boots skincare brand No7 saw growth of over 13%.

Boots Online Doctor saw orders rise 12% year on year, with emergency contraception, erectile dysfunction and period delay among the most-used services.

“I am very encouraged by the way in which people are responding to the changes that we have made, especially in our digital and beauty businesses,” said Boots UK & ROI MD Seb James.

“It is really good to see that market share has grown for the 11th quarter in a row showing that more customers are choosing Boots. This strong start to the year, together with a good Christmas, sets us up well for another good year and I would like to thank most sincerely all of my colleagues for their hard work and resilience over this vital trading period.”

US parent Walgreens Boots Alliance saw adjusted operating income rise 22.3% to $142m in the quarter, led by the sales of Boots UK. The group reduced quarterly dividend payment by 48% to $0.25 per share.

Boots’ performance has fuelled speculation WBA could revive plans to sell off the UK chain.

WBA delivered fiscal first quarter results in line with overall expectations, reflecting disciplined execution in a challenging consumer backdrop,” said WBA CEO Tim Wentworth.

“We are evaluating all strategic options to drive sustainable long-term shareholder value, focusing on swift actions to right-size costs and increase cash flow, with a balanced approach to capital allocation priorities.”