Boots in no rush for new chief

Retailer and drugs wholesaler Alliance Boots posted strong growth in annual sales and profits, but said it is in no hurry to replace former chief executive Andy Hornby.

Executive chairman Stefano Pessina took overall control of the business when Mr Hornby, the former HBOS CEO, stepped down abruptly in March.

Boots said sales rose by 15 per cent to £20.2bn in the year to March 31 with underlying profits up by 14 per cent to £1.05bn.

Sign up to our Business newsletter

Sign up to our Business newsletter

Most of the gains came from the pharmaceutical distribution side, where profits jumped by more than a third to £320m.

Boots UK had a more difficult time as like-for-like revenues rose by 0.5 per cent. Cosmetics and lifestyle saw sales fall. Higher volumes offset lower prescription charges to lift dispensing revenues by 2.4 per cent.

The company, taken private in an £11.1bn takeover in 2007, employs around 75,000 staff in the UK.

Mr Pessina said: “We are planning for consumer demand to be subdued and expect governments to continue to seek ways to contain growth in healthcare expenditure,” he said.

He denied a rift with Mr Hornby and said a search for a replacement will begin in due course.