Merrydown continues to claw itself back to profit with turnover up in its interim results for the six months ending September 30 2000. But the rise to £7.33m from £7.09m was offset by a drop in pretax profits from £130,000 to £30,000. Chief executive Nigel Freer blamed the fall on heavy promotional discounts on the Merrydown and Pulse cider brands. "These are holding their own," he said. "But it is a challenging market." Freer said Schloer, relaunched last year, was largely responsible for the growth in turnover. "It has outperformed the market both in volume and value," he said. Merrydown was refinanced two and a half years ago and has inched its way out of debt, returned to profit, reduced costs and generated cash. But it is slow progress. Freer said the company's future focus would be on building its brands and developing "a portfolio of leading niche brands". {{NEWS }}