UK - Alliance Boots has revealed a net retirement benefit surplus in its defined benefit schemes of £188m (€213m) at the end of March 2009, compared with £297m a year earlier.

Figures from the company's preliminary results for the year ending 31 March 2009 showed, as well as normal retirement benefit costs, Alliance Boots paid an additional contribution of £20m to the Boots Pension Scheme as part of its 2007 agreement with scheme trustees.

Under the agreement with its two main pension funds - the Boots Pension Scheme and the Alliance UniChem UK Group Pension Scheme - Alliance Boots Group agreed to pay additional contributions of £102m in 2007/08 and a further £366m over the next 10 years from August 2008, with £20m committed for each of the next four financial years, in return for conservative investment strategies. 

The latest results showed the total net retirement benefit surplus for the DB schemes, on an accounting basis, was £188m, however this is over £100m less than the £297m surplus recorded in the results ending 31 March 2008, when retirement assets were valued at £3.88bn compared with liabilities of £3.58bn.

Final figures for 2008/09 will not be published until 28 May 2009, however the preliminary statement confirmed the Boots Pension scheme is continuing with its planned investment of holding 15% of its assets in equity and property to back long-term liabilities, and 85% in a "diverse portfolio of high-quality bonds to match liabilities up to 35 years".

Meanwhile, the Alliance UniChem UK Group Pension Scheme's investment strategy consists of 50% of assets held in "return-seeking" asset classes, such as equities, and 50% in investments "with cash flows which match projected pension obligations under a liability-driven investment strategy".

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