Alliance Boots is understood to have bucked the dismal Christmas trading trend to post healthy like-for-like sales in the final quarter of 2007.

The group is believed to have delivered sales in the retail division, excluding dispensary, up 6.9 per cent like for like. Pharmacy sales are thought to be up 5.2 per cent and overall sales at the retail division rose 4.8 per cent.

Boots has been buoyed by its core categories. Cosmetics, fragrances and, in particular its own-brand No 7 all performed well, alongside healthcare. Pharmacy sales have been hit by greater-than-expected cuts under the Government’s medicine pricing scheme, known as clawback.

Verdict chairman Richard Hyman said: “The figures are very good, considering Boots is a business under significant pressure from competitors. It must have taken serious business from supermarkets and department stores.”

Alliance Boots, taken private in 2007 by a consortium led by private equity firm KKR and Stefano Pessina, is understood to have recorded a 3.5 per cent like-for-like increase in wholesale.

Alliance Boots was unavailable for comment.