Fresh food group Geest has reported a 16% rise in half year sales to June 30 and said its salads business had returned to growth in August after the group issued a profits warning in June.

The group, which produces fresh chilled foods such as ready meals, pizzas, bagged lettuce, pastas and stir-fries, said pre-tax profit rose almost 3% to £18.2m up from £17.7m last year. Turnover increased to £388.9m from £335.1m in 2001.

Chairman, Sir John Banham said Geest's market share of 8% of prepared foods in the UK lagged behind by 2% due to "a change in consumer behaviour around the timing of Bank holidays and the World Cup".