INDEPENDENT chemist chain Raimes, Clark and Company has reported a nine per cent increase in profits during a year when turnover dropped back slightly.

The Edinburgh company operates the long established Lindsay & Gilmour brand on the high street and trades from 26 locations across east central Scotland and the borders.

Chairman Nigel Cumming said the volumes of prescriptions the business handled were growing but values have dipped in recent years as branded drugs reached the end of their patent before being replaced by less expensive generic versions.

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Annual accounts for 2013 showed turnover at just short of £25.8 million, marginally behind the £25.82 million posted the previous year. Mr Cumming said: "The volume of prescriptions we are doing has increased above the national average but the average price of a prescription has come down as more expensive drugs are being replaced by cheaper ones."

However, pre-tax profits increased from £1.3 million to £1.42 million partly as a result of a near £67,000 reduction in interest charges. Net debt in the year reduced from more than £7.9 million to around £7 million.

Total staff costs increased From £4.5 million to £4.8 million with average employee numbers growing from 169 to 187.

Directors' emoluments went up from £377,488 to £462,944 with the highest paid receiving £131,569, up from £129,150.

A dividend of £270,828 was paid in the year, a rise from the £266,308 from 2012.

Mr Cumming suggested the company is once again considering acquisitions to expand its footprint.

He said: "We are beginning to look around again. Since the crash we have been rebuilding our finances and focusing on getting profitability back up.

"As with many other businesses things are getting more stable and we are beginning to look forward optimistically again."

Long serving managing director and superintendent pharmacist Robbie McGregor is retiring this year with his replacement Philip Galt, from Cornwell's Chemist in Staffordshire, joining in August.

The original Lindsay & Gilmour was set up in the 19th century and has been trading from its Elm Row site in Edinburgh since 1826 with the young Charles Darwin said to have been a customer. The origins of Raimes Clark go back to 1816 when John Raimes moved from Yorkshire to Edinburgh to work as a supplier to apothecaries.

The chemists were all brought under the Lindsay & Gilmour name in 1988, while the wholesale side of the business was sold in 1990.