Higher prices for spreads including Clover and Country Life helped Dairy Crest to a 5% rise in profits for the past year.

The company said strong performances from its spreads and cheese businesses had “more than offset tougher trading in dairies”. Pre-tax profits for the year to 31 March were up 5% to £87.6m. Taking into account one-off costs, profits were £77.8m, the same level as last year.

Although group revenues fell 2% to £1.6bn, Dairy Crest managed to reduce its overall debt by £25m over the year.

“Our results for the year demonstrate the benefit of being a broadly-based business,” said chief executive Mark Allen. “We have again increased added-value sales and our five key brands have all performed well.”

Sales of Cathedral City were up 6% over the year, against market growth of just 2%. Butter brands Clover and Country Life grew by 9%, while St Hubert Omega 3 spread was up 10%.

Sales of Frijj were up just 3%, well below market growth for the category of 8%.

Allen warned of “higher input costs” in the year come. But added: “We have also been successful in making cost savings across the business to reduce the effect that commodity inflation is having on our customers.”

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