ALLIANCE BOOTS’ executive chairman yesterday praised the coalition’s “friendly” attitude to business but warned that broader “anti-business” public environment could drive companies away.
The drugs company and owner of Boots the chemist, moved its headquarters to Switzerland shortly after Stefano Pessina and private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts took the group private in in 2007 for £11bn.
It came under fire from protest groups such as UK Uncut last year for avoiding tax in the UK.
Pessina said he welcomed the government’s move to cut corporation tax but said: “My only regret is that the atmosphere in the UK is becoming anti-business.
“This is not a good thing, because investment means jobs and that’s what we need in this country,” he said, adding that the company had invested over £1bn in the UK over the past five years.
“There are countries where we have not invested £1 for 10 years or more”, he said.
His comments came as the group said trading profits jumped 12.4 per cent to £1.2bn in the year to 31 March on sales up 18.4 per cent to £23bn.
The pharmaceutical wholesale division, which supplies medicines to more than 160,000 pharmacies and hospitals in 21 countries, saw revenue rise by 27.9 per cent on the back of acquisitions in Turkey, Germany.
Trading profit at Boots UK, which has 2,500 sites, rose by 5.2 per cent to £750m, boosted by a strong performance across its beauty and toiletry division.
But the continued squeeze in consumer spending and the government’s decision to cut the amount it reimburses for medicines caused like-for-like sales to fall 1.1 per cent.