Cadbury has announced new, more ambitious growth targets for the next four years, as the Dairy Milk maker unveiled a robust defence against Kraft Foods’ hostile bid.

Cadbury increased its sales targets to 5%-7% per annum until 2013, up from the 4%-6% previously indicated, eyeing margins of between 16%-18%.

Chairman Roger Carr hailed Cadbury as “an exceptional business worth much more than the offer put forward by Kraft”, praising its “iconic brands, sharp category focus and enviable geographic footprint”.

The confectioner said the £9.9bn bid from the US manufacturer failed to take into account the success of its Vision into Action restructuring plan in raising Cadbury’s profitability over the past two years.

“Kraft is trying to buy Cadbury on the cheap to provide much needed growth to their unattractive low-growth conglomerate business model,” Carr said in a statement.

“Don't let Kraft steal your company with its derisory offer.”

Over the weekend the BBC reported that Cadbury had held talks with US rival Hershey about a possible bid. If the discussions result in Hershey making a higher offer than Kraft, the Cadbury board may recommend the new bid to shareholders.

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