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Boots UK reported a revenue decline of 0.6% to £6.8bn in the year ending 31st August 2017. Over the same period, operating profit also declined 2.5% to £503m, in the latest accounts submitted to Companies House.

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Walgreens launches new pilot programme in Gainesville, Florida.

Optimised range, new services

The format is initially being launched in 17 stores and customer feedback over the next 12 to 18 months will influence further roll out.

Each store will feature an optimised product range with at least 20% fewer products on offer.

Walgreens has extended its partnerships with third parties to offer more convenient services. For example, its in-store concession from mobile phone provider Sprint, and wider range of delivery services with FedEx. Some of the trial stores also expand on Walgreens' existing pilot with LabCorp offering patient care services.

Simpler pricing and promotions, new loyalty subscription

Walgreens has introduced a new pricing and promotional strategy as part of the trial. This includes:

  • Lower every day prices on over 5,000 items across its health and beauty, personal care, grocery and homeware ranges
  • The launch of a new loyalty subscription programme called Walgreens Plus
    • $20 annual fee
    • 20% price discount on shopping, including sales items
    • Up to 60% off  prescriptions not billed to insurance (with further terms and conditions)
    • Free same day prescription delivery

Walgreens President Alex Gourlay said, “Today, more than ever, customers are looking for trusted advice, fair value and convenient products and services. At these stores in Gainesville, we are introducing a compelling retail experience that combines lower every day prices, the products customers ask for most often and modern convenience.”

Investment in digital

Walgreens is enhancing its digital capabilities as well as its in-store offer. The retailer is set to invest a further $500million on technology development over the next three years.

The retailer has already invested over half of its $1 billion budget in implementing new technology systems, designed to improve efficiency and lower costs for the business.

Walgreens is focusing its transformation strategy in three key areas: gaining shopper insight through analytics, improving in-store experience, and developing its digital capabilities.

The health and beauty specialist returns to the motorway network in the UK, opening a new store with Roadchef. This builds on its network of on-the-move locations including airports and train stations./p>

Roadchef launches first motorway Boots store

Boots has opened a new store on Roadchef’s motorway network.The 122 sq m store opened at the newly refurbished Strensham South site, at junction 8 of the M5.

The store, which will be open seven days a week from 7am-10pm, forms part of the £5 million refurbishment of the whole Roadchef site.

Extended opening hours as well its order online and collect in-store the next day service provides commuters with the ultimate convenient shopping experience.

The launch comes just in time for the busy summer season. Shoppers will be able to pick up their health and beauty essentials, including private label pharmaceuticals, as well as beauty brands such as No7, L’Oréal and Rimmel.

Kevin Birch, Boots' retail pharmacy operations director commented “Boots is one of the most accessible brands on the British high street, with 90% of the UK population within a 10 minute drive of one of our 2,500 stores. We’re delighted to bring our expertise and exclusive own brand products to customers and commuters stopping at Strensham South on their journeys.”

Walgreens Boots Alliance reported retail sales were down in both its US and international divisions for Q2 2018. At a company level, sales increased 12.1% to $33bn and operating income increased 33.9% to $1.9bn.

Pharmacy sales continue to drive US sales

The US Retail Pharmacy business continues to drive growth, accounting for 70.3% of the division’s sales in the quarter.

US Pharmacy sales increased 12.2% to $24.5bn, and same store sales were up 2.4%, primarily a result of increased prescription volume, the acquisition of Rite Aid stores and the formation of AllianceRx Prime.

Total retail sales were down 0.7%, with comparable retail sales down 2.7% because of lower non-pharmacy sales.

Mixed performance in international markets

WBA reported that sales were down by 2.6% to $3.3bn, with comparable stores sales down 1.7% on a constant currency basis.

In contrast, pharmacy sales helped to drive growth for Boots UK, reporting an 11.5% increase for its pharmacy sector and an increase of 6% for its retail sales.

Potential for a more positive international outlook

Despite disappointing international results for Q2, the company is currently in talks regarding two key pharmaceutical agreements. If these plans go ahead, a more positive outlook may be in store for WBA’s international division.

WBA should receive a major cash return from the sale of its stake in Chinese Wholesale partner Guangzhou Pharmaceuticals Corporation. The company also stands to benefit from growth due to its recent 40% stake acquisition in leading Chinese pharmacy chain Sinopharm Holding Guoda Drugstores Co. Both agreements are subject to regulatory approval.

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