Glanbia has unveiled a rise in pre-tax profit of more than a fifth as the cheese and ingredients business saw like-for-like sales climb by almost 9%.

Total sales inched up by just 1% for the year ended 3 January to €2.23bn, but operating profit rose by 20.8% to a new mark of €120.3m.

The news comes after Glanbia last month confirmed that it is to implement more than 200 redundancies across the business, with senior management set for 10% pay-cuts.

“Glanbia performed well in 2008, delivering a good set of results, completing a major strategic acquisition and achieving key financial targets,” said managing director John Moloney.

“All businesses, including joint ventures, performed to or better than anticipated, with the exception of food ingredients Ireland, which suffered a sharp decline in profits and margins in 2008."

He added: “2009 will be a tough year. Global dairy markets have weakened considerably from previous high levels with the outlook for 2009 deteriorating further in the last two months. Based on current market conditions, the group now expects 2009 earnings to be in a range of low to mid single-digit growth.”

Meanwhile, Glanbia finance director Geoff Meagher has announced his retirement in June, with deputy FD Siobhan Talbot in line to replace him. Talbot, who joined Glanbia in 1992, became deputy finance director in June 2005.

“Geoff has been an integral part of the success of Glanbia and made a major contribution towards the growth and internationalisation of the Group,” said Moloney.

“We will be maintaining a relationship with Geoff into the future as we will be availing of his extensive experience on a consultancy basis.”