Alliance Boots

Italian billionaire Stefano Pessina has proved the critics wrong and showed that health and beauty brand Boots can prosper under private-equity ownership. The business delivered an 11.3 per cent rise in EBITDA to £1.25bn on sales up 15.5 per cent to £20.5bn for the year to March 31.

Pessina - who took the business private in June 2007 in an £11bn deal backed by KKR - remains focused on his mission to make Alliance Boots the world’s top pharmacy-led health and beauty group and has made serious inroads in the past year.

At its Boots UK division, Pessina has led the integration with Alliance pharmacies and the rebranding of the shops to “Your local Boots pharmacy” will be completed by the end of the year. He has also merged Boots Opticians with Dollond & Aitchison and invested in the flagship No7 brand.

The role of managing the group day to day will this month pass to new Alliance Boots chief executive Andy Hornby. There has been criticism of Pessina for giving the former HBoS chief another chance, but Pessina defended the appointment in his usual no-nonsense style. “I’m not hiring him for his banking skills,” he said.

Globally, concepts such as Boots Apotek are being rolled out in Norway and while the wholesale division has taken a hit in the recession, Pessina has scope for growth as deregulation in countries such as Germany is seen as inevitable.