Boots owner has paid out "billions" in dividends
Boots UK parent company Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) has taken out over £1bn in dividends since taking full control of the chain in 2014, according to a report in this weekend's Sunday Times (May 15).
The UK holding companies of the retailer, Superior Holdings and WBA Financial, have come under fire for continuing to pay out dividends amounting to more than £4.3bn to its American owner despite Boots cutting workforce numbers and receiving millions of pounds in furlough payments, PPE grants and business rates relief during the pandemic.
However, Pharmacy Magazine understands that the vast majority of this amount relates to the gain on WBA’s sale last year of its Alliance Healthcare wholesaling business and also that the holding companies contain the international businesses of the group and not Boots UK.
A Walgreens spokeswoman was quoted in the article as saying the dividends did not come “directly or indirectly” from Boots UK, and accessing the Covid support schemes was the right thing to do to keep its pharmacies open and protect jobs at an “extremely challenging and uncertain time”
Boots was approached for comment. The retailer is currently seeking a buyer.
Story updated May 17