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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 July, 2005, 07:03 GMT 08:03 UK
Boots hit by 'difficult' trading
Boots chemist shop front
Consumers are feeling the pinch
UK health and beauty retailer Boots has seen underlying sales dip during the April to June quarter amid "difficult" trading conditions.

Like-for-like sales at Boots the Chemist outlets fell by 0.8%.

The retailer is the latest to report that consumer demand is sputtering. On Wednesday GUS and Clinton Cards said retail conditions were "challenging".

Increased competition, higher interest rates and more expensive petrol are all taking their toll, analysts have said.

'Tough market'

"Conditions on the High Street are difficult, competition is intense and there is nothing to suggest this will change in the coming months," said Richard Baker, chief executive of Boots.

"This is a reasonable performance in a tough market, against our strongest trading period last year."

Overall sales at Boots the Chemist rose 1.5% during the fiscal first quarter. For the Boots Group as a whole, revenues were up 1.9% on a year earlier.

Boots said that "the quarter saw good performance in Beauty, with particularly good growth in cosmetics", adding that it planned to invest more money in that part of its business.

"Toiletries also performed well," the company said, though "sales were weaker in the Lifestyle categories, with continued decline in the photo market and a slow start to summer ranges".

The company said it expected to complete the sale of its Boots Healthcare International division by the end of this year.

Analysts have valued the healthcare division, which makes Strepsils sore-throat pastilles and Nurofen pain killers, at just over 1bn.

Glaxo 'eyes Boots medicine unit'
25 May 05 |  Business
'Tough trading' hits Boots profit
19 May 05 |  Business
Tough times prompt Boots warning
07 Apr 05 |  Business
Boots alert 'did not force exit'
14 Mar 05 |  Business

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