Alliance Boots sees profit climb

Healthcare group Alliance Boots bucked the gloom around retailers, posting a 14.2 per cent rise in year profit, and cutting its debt.

The group, taken private in 2007 in what at the time was Europe's biggest leveraged buyout, said on Monday it made a trading profit of £1.05bn in the year to 31 March.

Revenue increased 15.1 per cent to £20.2bn, with growth driven by market share gains in its core British health and beauty stores, as well as a strong performance from its international drugs wholesale business, which was boosted by acquisitions.

The firm's net borrowings were reduced by £546m.

Alliance Boots, which was bought for £11bn s by private equity firm KKR and Executive Chairman Stefano Pessina, said it had a strong platform for continuing growth.

The group cautioned that it is planning for consumer demand to be subdued and expects governments to continue to seek ways to contain growth in healthcare expenditure.

"In spite of this, we are confident about our future prospects both in the short and longer term," said Pessina.

In March Andy Hornby abruptly quit his job as the group's chief executive after less than two years in the job. The former chief excecutive of HBOS said he needed a break from corporate life.