Dairy Crest plans to launch healthier versions of its products - and has its sights set on cracking the Continental market.

Drummond Hall, out­going chief executive of Dairy Crest, said the company would be launching "healthier variants of some big brands very soon". But he declined to reveal which of its brands, which include Cathedral City cheese and Country Life butter, would get the treatment.

Dairy Crest could also be set for a push into Europe after it announced plans to acquire St Hubert, the French and Italian spreads business of Uniq, for about £248m. Its brands, which are currently not sold in the UK, include St Hubert Omega-3, St Hubert Cholegram, St Hubert 41 and Le Fleurier.

There is scope to sell St Hubert products in the UK, as well as introducing Dairy Crest brands into Europe. "It is an option," said Hall.

This week Dairy Crest reported a 53% increase in half-year pre-tax profit to 30 September of £29.8m, on sales up 6% at £622.6m.