Alliance Boots plc, an international pharmacy-led health and beauty group, advises that it is briefing the financial community prior to entering its close period on 1 October 2006. The company intends to announce its half year results in mid November 2006.
The company issued a Merger Completion and Trading Statement on 31 July in which it indicated that in the periods leading up to the completion of the merger between Alliance UniChem Plc and Boots Group PLC both businesses performed on track. Since that time trading has continued in line with our expectations.
Commenting today, Alliance Boots Chief Executive Richard Baker said:
"Since the merger was completed on 31 July, trading has continued in line with our expectations. The integration programme is proceeding to plan and the group is in good shape going forward."
Our retail businesses are on track, with continued expansion in the international and UK community pharmacy businesses. Our UK businesses have maintained good sales growth with a further month of good weather in July and continued strong performance from the Health category. The Health category has benefited from increased membership of the Boots Health Club and increased provision of services such as Medicine Usage Reviews. Within the Beauty and Toiletries category, cosmetics and fragrance sales continue to grow strongly. In England and Wales, adjustments have recently been announced to the clawback rate in relation to generic drug reimbursement from the beginning of October. This action was expected and we are taking steps to mitigate the impact of these changes.
Our wholesale businesses have continued overall to perform well, as indicated in the 31 July trading statement. We have recently signed an agreement with Pfizer to be their sole logistics services provider for the distribution of prescription medicines to pharmacies in the UK. Regulatory approval has recently been received for the acquisition of the UK short-line pharmaceutical wholesale business of Cardinal Health; this transaction is therefore expected to complete shortly. In France, following the completion of the review of our service offering referred to in July, some restructuring of the warehouse network is underway. This action will improve operational efficiency and leave the French business better placed to adapt as the market continues to evolve. Costs associated with this process will be treated as exceptional. Looking ahead there is a possibility of further government action in France to contain healthcare expenditure in the second half of the current year.
Following the completion of the merger at the end of July the integration programme is underway, with the initial focus being on implementing our new organisational structure and on accessing the anticipated cost synergies.
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Richard Baker, Chief Executive and George Fairweather, Group Finance Director, will host a conference call for analysts at 08.00 BST.
UK dial in number 020 7190 1596
International dial in number +44 20 7190 1596
Quote conference title - Alliance Boots pre-close statement
A replay facility will be available for seven days:
UK dial in number 020 8515 2499
International dial in number +44 20 8515 2499
Access number 330506#