Improved sales of key Dairy Crest brands such as Cathedral City and Clover were offset by reduced earnings at the company’s dairies arm over the past six months.

First-half revenues slipped 3% to £776.9m, although pre-tax profits for the period to 30 September were up slightly to £36.1m. Group debt was down 12% over the same period last year to £335.5m.

“Dairy Crest has enjoyed another good six months,” said chief executive Mark Allen.

“We have continued to grow our brands, reduce our costs and control our debt.  At the same time the improvements we have made to our quality, service and cost base have paid off with new contracts to supply fresh milk to major retailers.”

He added: “With operational efficiencies and selling-price increases in certain categories limiting the impact of higher input costs, we are confident that we can continue to deliver profits in line with our expectations.”

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