Hutchison Whampoa's retail and manufacturing unit boosted earnings before interest and tax (ebit) by 92 per cent to HK$1.03 billion for the year to December 31. The company said the impressive performance was driven mainly by extra income from the acquisition of the Netherlands-based Kruidvat group last October. In 2001, the division's ebit was HK$537 million. Last year, turnover for the division jumped 34 per cent to HK$39.47 billion, against HK$29.54 billion previously. Kruidvat brought immediate benefits, contributing two months of earnings and cash flow. The addition of Kruidvat, with its 1,900 health and beauty stores in Europe, tripled ASW's pharmacy count to 2,860 from 960, and expanded its presence from 17 to 20 countries. The group's retail arm, AS Watson (ASW), paid 1.3 billion euros (HK$10.78 billion) for the Kruidvat group. Morgan Stanley said the 1.3 billion euros paid for Kruidvat represented a price to earnings ratio of 10, which translated to an annual earnings contribution of about 130 million euros. Hutchison Whampoa said although its supermarket chain ParknShop continued to be affected by Hong Kong's deflation, it reported improved results from its cost rationalism programme. ParknShop's mainland operations also registered encouraging results and it continued to expand there, opening an additional four large-format stores in southern China. The Watsons personal care, health and beauty operations in Hong Kong, China and other Asian countries, and Savers in Britain, recorded a 16 per cent rise in ebit, while sales increased 21 per cent. 'The increase was mainly attributable to the improved performance of Savers in the UK which increased its chain by 56 stores, [and was] partially offset by lower results in Taiwan,' Hutchison said.