Boots' profits rise despite revenue fall after tie-up with Walgreens

Alliance Boots, the pharmacy and drugs giant behind Britain's best-known chemist, said yesterday it plans to keep expanding into new markets and in areas where it already has a strong presence.

It posted a 6 per cent rise in trading profit and said it was confident about its growth prospects. That trading profit of £1.27bn in the year to 31 March came despite a 2.6 per cent fall in revenue to £22.4bn as consumers across Europe grappled with government austerity measures and fallout from the eurozone debt crisis.

A tie-up last year with Walgreens – the US giant acquired a 45 per cent stake in the business – helped the rise in earnings.

Since allying in August 2012, the UK and US companies have seconded staff to a joint venture based in Bern, Switzerland, to help deliver so-called synergies from the tie-up, Alliance Boots said.

The retailers have forecast $1bn of benefits by 2016 from sharing best practices in store design, customer loyalty programmes and selling online.

The executive chairman, Stefano Pessina (pictured), the Italian billionaire who engineered the takeover of Boots in 2007 for £11bn, said: "We continue to be confident about our prospects and ability to pursue profitable growth, organically, from our synergy programmes and through international expansion."

Debts at the company fell by more than £1bn to £5.9bn.