Robert Wiseman Dairies has reported improved sales for the quarter on the back of a number of new contracts starting.

The milk giant today announced sales volumes for the first three months of the new financial year were up 8.5% on the equivalent period last year. The financial performance was in line with expectations and underlying debt was slightly below forecast, chairman Alan Wiseman said.

Following Dairy Farmers of Britain’s collapse, Robert Wiseman was asked to begin its contract to supply The Co-operative Group ahead of the agreed August start date. It also began supplying Spar wholesales Cappers and Blakemore during June.

The increased workload has so far been handled by the company’s Manchester and Droitwich Spa dairies, which will continue until capacity at the Bridgwater super-dairy is increased to 375 million litres early next year.

Robert Wiseman also revealed that it had picked up 70 former DFB farmers, and that farmgate milk prices were benefiting from a recovery in bulk cream returns.

Sales of 1% fat milk brand ‘the One’ and extended shelf life milk was “making good progress in a very competitive marketplace”.

“We have managed our way through some major changes in the industry in the last few months,” said Alan Wiseman. “We are confident that with a robust balance sheet, the most modern and efficient network of dairies and distribution centres in the UK and the support of our customers, we are in good shape to meet the many challenges that lie ahead as we seek to rebuild margins and profitability.”