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Boots backs boss Hornby as sales jump

ALLIANCE Boots, Britain&rsquo;s biggest pharmacy chain, yesterday said that it was on track to beat current trading expectations after reporting a jump in sales at its Health &amp; Beauty and wholesale divisions.<br /> <br /> Chief executive Andy Hornby,&nbsp; who formerly ran near-failed bank HBOS?and supermarket Asda, announced the good news as he unveiled his set of results since being appointed by the retailer in July. <br /> <br /> The ex-banking boss was largely blamed for failures at HBOS that led to losses of &pound;11bn before it was swallowed up by rival Lloyds. <br /> <br /> But finance director George Fairweather yesterday said: &ldquo;Andy is settling in very well. He has great experience and he&rsquo;s working with the team to drive performance.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> Alliance Boots, which is owned by private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Italian billionaire Stefano Pessina, said that group revenue was up 11.6 per cent for the six months to 30 September. <br /> <br /> Revenue at its Health and Beauty arm rose by 6.2 per cent, and climbed 13.8 per cent at its pharmaceutical wholesale division. The group said like-for-like sales at Boots stores were up 3.4 per cent during the period.<br /> <br /> Executive chairman Stefano Pessina said: &ldquo;This performance is particularly encouraging despite the challenging economic conditions we all face.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> Fairweather yesterday said that retail sales were boosted by a surge in demand for health products by consumers&rsquo;&nbsp; due to growing fears surrounding the swine flu pandemic. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;We are working closely with the government to make sure that our pharmacies are geared up for customers to follow health guidelines,&rdquo; he added.<br /> <br /> The firm also said it was benefitting from stellar sales of its much-hyped anti-wrinkle cream, Protect &amp; Perfect Intense serum.<br /> <br /> The group said its financial position was robust, with &pound;367m of acquisition borrowings repurchased.<br /> <br /> <strong>FAST FACTS </strong>ALLIANCE BOOTS<br /> &bull; Stefano Pessina and private equity firm KKR took Alliance Boots private in 2007 for &pound;11bn.<br /> &bull; Alliance Boots appointed former HBOS banker Andy Hornby as chief executive in July.<br /> &bull; Half year revenue is up 11 per cent.<strong><br /> <br /> ANDY HORNBY<br /> CHIEF EXECUTIVE <br /> ALLIANCE BOOTS</strong><br /> <br /> <strong>CV</strong><br /> <strong>Born:</strong> 21 January 1967<br /> <strong>Education:</strong> Oxford ( St Peter's College); Harvard Business School (MBA).<br /> <strong>Career:</strong> Boston Consulting Group;<br /> Blue Circle Home Products; Asda (1996-99);&nbsp; Halifax, now HBOS (1999-resigned 2008). Non-executive director at Home Retail. Appointed chief executive Alliance Boots July 2009.<br /> <br /> Hornby resigned from HBOS in October 2008, waiving a &pound;1.6m bonus after the bank&rsquo;s near collapse. Hornby was previously coveted for the Boots role in 2003, but HBOS awarded him a &pound;2m loyalty bonus to stop him from taking the job. <br /> <br /> But despite his stint at HBOS, he has always kept a close eye on the high street as non-executive director of the Home Retail Group that owns Argos and Homebase. This follows his stint at Asda under chairman Archie Norman. Hornby is said to be on an &pound;800,000 salary at Alliance Boots.<br />