Strong performances from Cathedral City and Country Life helped Dairy Crest to a surge in pre-tax profits of 20% in the six months to 30 September.

Earnings rose from £28.4m to £34m for the period despite revenues falling from £808.2m to £803.7m. The group also slashed its debt from £490.6m to £380.4m.

Chief executive Mark Allen said the results showed Dairy Crest’s strategy of investment in its major brands and tight focus on controlling costs was paying off. The group has begun a consultation on the closure of its glass bottling facility at its Fenstanton dairy.

“We are encouraged by the good progress we have made, which has delivered a 9% improvement in adjusted pre-tax profit, a £45m improvement in operating cash flow and has allowed us to reduce our net by over £110 million since September 2008,” he said.

The group reported that its five key brands – Cathedral City, Country Life, St Hubert Omega 3, Clover and Frijj – had together grown sales by 10% over the first half of last year. But lower sales of dairy commodities, doorstep milk and non-key brands resulted in the drop in overall revenues.

Read more
Postlethwaite capture for Cathedral City (5 November 2009)
Cathedral City sets out to be Heinz Beanz of cheese (17 October 2009)
On the Crest of a wave: Mark Allen profile (5 September 2009)