Matsumotokiyoshi Co., the nation’s largest drugstore chain, said Thursday its group net profits rose 26.9 percent to a record 6.64 billion yen in the 2001 business year on strong sales at its mainline drugstore division.

The retailer, based in Matsudo, Chiba Prefecture, said its drugstore division netted sales of 210.91 billion yen in the year to March 31, up 15.6 percent and surpassing the 200 billion yen mark for the first time.

Sales from the division accounted for roughly 80 percent of the company’s overall sales of 256.28 billion yen, which rose 10.6 percent.

The company said its profitability was further boosted by not needing to set aside profits to plug a shortfall in reserves for paying out retirement benefits, though it did so the previous year.

On a consolidated pretax basis, its profits rose 11 percent to 12.41 billion yen.

Reflecting the earnings gain, Matsumotokiyoshi said it will make a bonus dividend payment of 8 yen per share, bringing the annual payment to 30 yen, including a midterm ordinary payment of 10 yen and a yearend one of 12 yen. It paid an annual dividend of 22 yen the year before.

For the current year, the company expects a slight improvement in earnings, with group pretax profits projected at 12.7 billion yen. and net profits of 6.9 billion yen on estimated sales of 276 billion yen.

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