The impressive performance derives from Unichem's exposure to recession-resistant prescription pharmaceuticals and its increased interest in drug retailing.
Unichem said it had about a 30 per cent share of pharmaceutical wholesaling in Britain. Its sales and profits from over-the-counter products such as toiletries were flat but sales of prescription drugs continued to flourish.
Unichem sold more drugs because the ageing British population is demanding more. Manufacturers such as Glaxo are also producing more expensive drugs.
Unichem had 162 retail pharmacies on 30 June, up from 132 the year before. It now has 196 outlets.
The results were marred by a pounds 2.5m extraordinary charge against the closure of Unichem's nappy manufacturing operation, Neptune.
Earnings per share were 7.2p, up from 6p, and the dividend was raised from 1.65p to 1.9p.Reuse content