Dairy Crest has predicted improved profits for the past 12 months after heavy investment in its five key brands.

The maker of Cathedral City and Clover said it had benefited from lower costs at its dairies division – but that was partially offset by reduced profits in spreads and cheese due to heavy promotion.

Group debt had was cut by around £65m over the year to below £350m.

Chief executive Mark Allen hailed “a year of strong progress for Dairy Crest in which we have consistently delivered on our strategy”.

“Increased investment in innovation and marketing… has contributed to another year of encouraging growth in added-value sales, which in turn has underpinned higher profits,” he said.

“Stronger brands, a lower cost-base and increased focus leave us much better placed than a year ago.”

The company will publish full results on 18 May.

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