Health and beauty giant Boots UK reported like-for-like retail sales up 3.8% in December, with fragrances and beauty electricals performing well.

For the three months to December 31, Boots UK reported like-for-like sales up 2.8% including VAT, with like-for-like dispensing volume up 3.1%. The retailer said it grew market share in its core health and beauty categories, and in December received record customer care results.

For the quarter, total sales in its health and beauty division (including Boots Opticians and its non-UK health and beauty businesses) were up 1.4% excluding VAT.

Parent Alliance Boots reported sales for the quarter up 14.3%. Sales in the pharmaceutical division were up 24.4%. In the period it became majority shareholder in Hedef Alliance in Turkey, and in December it bought Anzag in Germany. As a result, the group is now the number one pharmaceutical wholesaler in Europe.

Group chief executive Andy Hornby said: “Overall the group performed strongly despite the challenging trading conditions we continue to see across Europe. We are very pleased with our progress and are well positioned to deliver a strong financial performance in 2010/11, through a combination of organic growth and the two major acquisitions we have recently made to expand the international presence of our Pharmaceutical Wholesale Division. We enter 2011 as a much broader international group with an even stronger platform for future growth.”

Hornby said in a note to staff: “The group’s financial position remains strong, reflecting a continuing focus on profit generation and working capital management and the benefits of low interest rates.

“It is likely that the financial climate will remain challenging throughout 2011. This means that we will have to continue to work hard to meet our targets for the final quarter of our financial year ending 31 March 2011. I am confident that we will achieve these and report another year of strong profit growth in May.”