Dairy Crest has unveiled a strong set of annual results on the back of double-digit growth across its branded range.
The chilled dairy specialist recorded a 20% increase in revenue to £1.57bn for the year to 31 March, with pre-tax profit up 2% to £66m.
Many of the company's branded products recorded strong growth, with Cathedral City sales up 23% to give it a market value of £160m. Utterly Butterly and Country Life boosted their sales by 29% and 25% respectively, while in the yoghurt sector Petits Filous' sales grew 25% and Frubes 34%. The Frijj and St Hubert Omega 3 brands also recorded growth of more than 10% each.
Although profits were hampered by last year's Clover contamination scare, which saw sales plummet 11% compared to the year before, Dairy Crest reported sales had now recovered to pre-recall levels. Overall results were also hit by the £9.4m fine the company paid to the OFT as part of the dairy price-fixing affair.
A focus on branded products and reducing costs had been crucial to the robust sales figures, said chief executive Mark Allen. "We continue to actively manage our margins," he added. "We have implemented price increases and reduced our cost base to offset inflationary pressure on milk and commodities."
Allen warned that inflation in costs would continue to put pressure on the business, but said Dairy Crest was confident it could secure further price increases from retailers if required.
The company is expected to continue developing lighter versions of existing products, with Clover Lighter set to launch later this year. This follows the launches of Cathedral City Lighter, Country Life Spreadable Lighter and Utterly Butterly with Omega-3 in the past two years.
The 50% share Dairy Crest acquired in food ingredient specialist Fayrefield FoodTec in December would help the company develop new health-based products, Allen added.