The company behind Boots has upped its outlook for the financial year after its UK stores were given a boost by high street reopenings.

The Walgreens Boots Alliance said it expected annual earnings per share to grow by around 10% compared to a year earlier.

Boots has played a significant part in the UK’s pandemic response (Mike Egerton/PA)

The measure, which is adjusted and based on its continuing operations, compares to previous guidance of “mid-to-high single-digit growth”.

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Like other pharmacies, Boots has played a significant role in the UK’s pandemic response.

So far, it has administered around three million Covid-19 tests in the UK. These have mostly been done in partnership with the NHS, but the company is also expanding the number of private tests it is providing to individuals and businesses.

Airlines have proved to be one of its biggest customers. The pharmacy chain has struck several deals to test passengers before they fly.

Sales in Boots pharmacies rose by 3.7% in the company’s most recent quarter. But its retail sales did much better, up by nearly 39% compared to the same period a year earlier.

“Footfall on the high street showed early signs of recovery amid a partial easing of strict lockdown measures, though travel locations in airports and train stations continued to face challenges,” Walgreens Boots Alliance said.

Online sales rose by more than 43%, it added.

Overall sales across the company, which includes the US operations, rose by 12% to 34 billion US dollars (£24.6 billion), it revealed on Thursday.

Chief executive Rosalind Brewer said that the 6.5 billion US dollars (£4.7 billion) it received from selling hospital and pharmacy supplier Alliance Healthcare earlier this year would be invested in new technologies.

“We are accelerating our investments to advance our operational excellence, including technology innovations that support mass personalisation, pharmacy of the future and the next phase of growth in tech-enabled healthcare,” she said.

Gross profit rose 55% in the quarter, helped by a strong US dollar as well as a recovery of retail sales in the UK.