Boots has blamed a decline in food and drink sales on the break-up of its relationship with Waitrose.

In 2010, Boots listed Waitrose products in a trial that also saw Boots products stocked in Waitrose. But the tie-up ended in 2012. Waitrose stopped selling Boots health & beauty products at the start of the year and Boots phased out the sale of Waitrose products in the summer.

At its annual results presentation on Wednesday, Boots said the disruption had caused food and drink sales to fall in the year to 31 March.

“We are recovering from the end of a partnership that didn’t work out,” said Alex Gourlay, chief executive of the Boots health & beauty division.

Gourlay added the Waitrose trial had taught Boots that its customers were happy to see more choice in food.

The retailer has since invested in its food offer, re-launching its Shapers and Delicious lunchtime ranges and introducing a range of Jamie Oliver products last year. It is also trialling a range of healthy evening meals supplied by Musgrave.  

Meanwhile, Boots reported a 2.6% drop in annual sales to £22.4bn, largely due to reduced dispensing revenues as branded drugs came off patents and were replaced by less expensive generics.

Conversely, the shift to generics helped grow profits because generics offer higher margins. Boots reported an increase in trading profit of 6.1% to £1.265bn.

Boots executive chairman Stefano Pessina said it had been “a transformational year” for the company following the sale of a 45% stake in Alliance Boots to America’s largest pharmacy chain Walgreens.