Retail sales in the UK at Alliance Boots edged up by just 0.7% in the six months to 30 September.

The chemist said it had been hit by the weaker economy and reduced shopper numbers on the high street, especially outside London and the southeast.

“Boots delivered a good performance, taking into account the difficult UK consumer environment and governmental measures to curb healthcare spending,” said Boots executive chairman Stefano Pessina.

Groupwide sales across the whole business rocketed by 31%, thanks largely to the acquisitions of Hedef Alliance and Anzag last year.

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