A "challenging" UK confectionery market and lacklustre sales of fizzy drinks in the US were offset by strong gains in European and Australian operations at Cadbury Schweppes. First half pre-tax profit at the confectionery and soft drinks giant leaped 14% to £351m on sales up 26% to £2.46bn, driven by recent acquisitions and double digit growth in non carbonates. Cadbury has been steadily increasing its presence in the fast growing non carbonated drinks sector this year, picking up Snapple, Slush Puppie and Australian juice brand Spring Valley, and promises "strong sales and marketing programmes" to drive growth in these areas in the second half now integration is largely complete. By the end of the year, the group aims to open another three Cadbury Cafes in the UK after successful trials in Bath. New acqusitions could even take the company into entirely new areas of the beverage or confectionery market, she added. All being well, the 700m euro deal to buy Orangina should clear the works council and the regulators by the autumn, said a spokeswoman. The 117m euro purchase of Spanish concern La Casera will give Cadbury the number two slot in the Spanish soft drinks market, and boost its market share from 6% to 15%. {{NEWS }}