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Warm summer weather and growing sales of vegan goods drove a rise in annual revenues at health and beauty chain Superdrug last year, but profits fell back amid “challenging times” on the high street.

Total sales in the 52 weeks to 29 December 2018 rose 3.3% to £1.3bn, with like-for-like sales up 1.4% in the period.

Overall sales growth was boosted by the opening of 23 new stories taking its overall store estate to 816 outlets.

The UK’s hot summer saw sales of its sun cream ranges jump by 29% year-on-year, while sales of own brand vegan products jumped by 25%.

However, headline pre-tax profits at the AS Watson-owned chain fell back 5% to £88.3m from £92.9m in the previous financial year.

Peter Macnab, chief executive of AS Watson Health & Beauty UK, commented: “We are pleased with the company’s performance in challenging times, and I’d like to thank every team member for their hard work and contribution to these results.

“Our strategy for 2019 is to ensure we are offering all our customers everyday accessible health and beauty, giving them the beauty and health services they need in a vibrant and friendly store environment.”

Morning update

On the markets this morning, the FTSE 100 has opened up 0.2% to 7,363.1pts.

Early risers include McColl’s (MCLS), up 2.6% t 78.5p, McBride (MCB), up 2.4% to 84p, Bakkavor (BAKK), up 2.2% to 130.8p and Just Eat (JE), up 1.6% to 637.2p.

Fallers so far this morning include DS Smith (SMDS), down 1.8% to 343.8p, British American Tobacco (BATS), down 1.6% to 2,838.1p, FeverTree (FEVR), down 1.4% to 2,390p and Imperial Brands (IMB), down 1.3% to 1,951.2p.

This week in the City

After a brief flurry of company news last week we’re back to little activity this week for listed food, drink and grocery firms.

Fresh from the release of its first quarter trading figures last week, which showed a marked slowdown of first quarter growth, Tesco (TSCO) will host its capital markets day for investors and analysts tomorrow.

Former Costa Coffee owner Whitbread (WTB) hosts its AGM and will outline its first quarter sales Wednesday, while Coca Cola HBC has its own AGM on Tuesday.

Internationally, US grocery giant Kroger will release its first quarter sales update on Thursday, while troubled Poundland owner Steinhoff International will issue its full year results on Wednesday.

There’s more news on the economic front, with the official UK inflation figures for May released on Wednesday, while both the Office of National Statistics’ monthly retail sales figures and the Bank of England’s monthly interest rate decision will be released on Thursday.