Health and beauty group Boots said its third quarter sales were boosted by strong Christmas trading at its high street business Boots The Chemists .

For the period to December 31, total sales rose 8.1% and 7.5% on a like-for-like basis. Health and beauty products were driven by a strong performance in own brand cosmetics, premium cosmetics and fragrances, up 10.3% like-for-like. While DVDs, CDs, books and small electrical items rose 6.5%.

Chief executive Steve Russell, said: “Our third quarter sales growth is the best for over 10 years. We have built on the successful performance in the second quarter, and established a higher platform for future sales growth."

Boots said strong sales of Christmas merchandise had some impact on the sales mix. Non-seasonal sales were driven by increased promotional activity and investment in price, and this will continue through the fourth quarter, the company added.

Sales at the group's Wellbeing Services, which includes its opticians, went up 14.2% and 7.3% like-for-like.

Boots Healthcare International sales were up 9% or 8.3% like-for-like, while Boots Retail International sales were flat .

Nurofen sales were "well ahead" of last year, while Clearasil saw a planned acceleration in like-for-like sales growth.

Boots will issue a pre-close statement on March 28 and its full-year results on June 5.