Jan 5 (Reuters) - Walgreens
* CFO on conf call- currency had a negative impact on q1 year-over-year performance, us dollar being around 18% higher versus sterling
* CFO on conf call- branded drug price inflation continued and was at a more moderate level than in prior quarters
* CFO on conf call- Q1 gross margin was higher than last year primarily driven by owned brand performance and procurement benefits
* CFO - recruitment and training of beauty consultants taking slightly longer than expected
* CEO- "no doubt that the (U.S.) healthcare system needs to change by improving the provision of healthcare while acting to control the rapid growth in costs"
* CEO- "Holiday shopping was later than usual, with bulk of sales occurring in the last days before christmas... Once again seen what appears to be a solid holiday period in our main retail market"
* We have been pricing more competitively in some of our networks in preparation to drive volume Further company coverage: