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Boots First-Half Store Sales Slump to Slowest Pace in Four Years

Alliance Boots Holdings Ltd., the U.K.’s largest drugstore chain, said first-half sales at its health and beauty unit rose at the slowest rate since the company’s buyout in 2007 as Britons reined in spending.

Revenue at the unit, which has more than 3,280 stores, climbed 0.4 percent in the six months ended Sept. 30, the privately held company said today. That compares with growth of 1.7 percent in the year ended March and is the worst rate of growth since it was sold to KKR & Co. and Chairman Stefano Pessina in an 11.1 billion-pound buyout.

The drugstore chain said “continuing pressures” on consumer budgets and reduced shopper numbers particularly outside London hurt sales. Wholesale revenue surged 49.5 percent, mainly because of the purchase of a majority stake in Turkish drug wholesaler Hedef Alliance Holding A.S. and Germany’s Andreae-Noris Zahn AG last year.

“Boots delivered a good performance, taking into account the difficult U.K. consumer environment and governmental measures to curb health-care spending,” Pessina said in the statement.

U.K. retail revenue at stores open at least a year rose 0.7 percent including value-added tax at the health and beauty division. Outside the U.K, same-store sales fell 0.3 percent due to the weak Irish economy, the statement shows.

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