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

Its brands Cathedral City, Country Life and Frijj all performed well during the period, with sales for each brand up by more than 20%, the dairy company said.

Milk volumes to major retailers rose 4% and its milk business continued to grow modestly, helped by price increases in January this year.

It also plans to acquire St Hubert, the French and Italian spreads business of Uniq for E370m (£248m).

“We believe that St Hubert is a strong business. The move into continental Europe should provide opportunities for future growth,” said outgoing chief executive Drummond Hall.

“In the second half we will focus on realising the financial and operational benefits from these transactions and on further developing our brand portfolio,” he added.