Alliance Boots, which owns the Boots pharmacy chain, reported Wednesday that its net profits fell 6.9 percent to 572 million pounds, or $909.5 million at current exchange, in the year to March 31. This year’s net profits were impacted by losses from discontinued operations, relating to Alliance Boots’ disposal of a 51 percent stake in Alliance Healthcare Russia, its Russian business. The shareholding was sold to a company controlled by Alliance Boots’ ultimate shareholder, AB Acquisitions Holdings Ltd.

However, the company’s earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization figure for the fiscal year rose 10.2 percent to 1.44 billion pounds, or $2.28 billion. Revenues during the period increased 18.4 percent to 23.01 billion pounds, or $36.58 billion, from 19.43 billion pounds, or $30.89 billion, in the same period last year. All dollar figures have been calculated at average exchange rates for the period.

Revenues at the company’s health and beauty division rose 0.6 percent during the year, to 7.67 billion pounds, or $12.19 billion.

Stefano Pessina, executive chairman of Alliance Boots, described the figures as “particularly encouraging, given the challenging economic environment.

“We are confident about our future prospects and the ability to pursue profitable growth, both organically and through further international expansion,” said Pessina, noting that this would be supported by the company’s “strong operating cash flow and secure funding arrangements.” Pessina did, however, sound a note of caution for the year ahead, saying the company expects the economic environment “to remain difficult with continuing pressure on both consumer and governmental expenditure.”

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