UK parent company of Boots paid a dividend of £488m to American owners while chemist chain was struggling to cope with Covid-19 crisis
By Neil Craven, Financial Mail on Sunday
Published: | Updated:
The UK parent company of Boots paid a dividend of £488million to its American owners while the chemist chain was struggling to cope with the Covid-19 crisis.
Superior Holdings Limited made the payment last November – just months after Boots drew a £300million Government loan.
Superior Holdings – which is the parent company of The Boots Company Plc and a complex web of other entities – is ultimately controlled by giant US corporation Walgreens Boots Alliance.
Payout: Superior Holdings Limited made the payment last November – just months after Boots drew a £300million Government loan
In January, Walgreens Boots Alliance drew fire from politicians after The Mail on Sunday revealed it paid its billionaire Italian boss Stefan Pessina a share-related payment of £50million.
This was despite The Boots Company Plc having accepted the emergency taxpayer-backed loan provided by the Bank of England.
Walgreens has paid dividends to US shareholders – including Pessina – of about £300million every quarter throughout the pandemic.
The loan appears to have been repaid in the past ten days.
Last night, Walgreens insisted that ‘no dividend directly or indirectly was paid by Boots UK [the retail arm] to the group in 2020’.
It added: ‘Walgreens Boots Alliance is a global company and the dividend payment reflects the company’s long-term prospects.’
Walgreens has blamed the pandemic for a drop in UK profit and retail sales.
Since the crisis began the company has slashed the workforce at its core Boots UK chemist business by 6,500 – about one in ten of its staff.
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