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Aged care and retirement village operator Ryman Healthcare has reported a 22 per cent rise in annual net profit to $72.6 million.

Chairman David Kerr said the company's substantial operating cash flows had allowed it to develop new villages at an increasing rate, without seeking fresh capital, while increasing dividends.

Total operating revenue for the year to the end of March rose 21 per cent to $75.5m, while operating cash flows were up 70 per cent to $126m and total assets topped $1 billion for the first time.

A final dividend of 2.8 cents per share is to be paid, up from 2.2cps a year earlier.

In the past year, four new villages were opened, in Auckland, Christchurch, Palmerston North and Nelson.

Dr Kerr said that despite a slowdown in the residential property market in the past year, Ryman remained committed to its long term growth targets.

"We have already adapted and we are well-positioned for further growth. Our landbank is in great shape, we have a unique village model and there is a burgeoning need for our services," he said.

According to Statistics New Zealand, the number of New Zealanders aged 85 plus was set to balloon.

In the next five years alone that age group was projected to grow by 26 per cent, and by 2031 their number would have increased almost three-fold.

Ryman owns 18 villages nationwide, with construction of a New Plymouth village having started recently. The company plans to open new villages in Orewa, Whangarei, Gisborne and Dunedin.

Ryman shares closed at $1.74 yesterday, having ranged between $2.75 and $1.35 in the past year.

- NZPA