Irish based food firm Kerry Group posted a 25% jump in annual sales boosted by a full-years contribution from the former Golden Vale businesses.

For the year ended December 31 turnover rose to 3.8bn euros from 3bn euros last year while pre-tax profit before exceptional items climbed to 213.8m euros compared to 190m euros in 2001.

Like-for-like sales for the group grew 6%.

European operations - excluding Ireland - increased sales by 9% to 1.3bn euros, recording 6% like-for-like growth helped by a strong performance from the group’s ingredients business.

Sales originating from Irish based operations increased 56% to 1.4bn euros with an underlying growth of 4% year-on-year.

Md Hugh Friel said: “The strong performance of the group in 2002 is most encouraging and was achieved across all businesses and territories.

“Based on our core strengths and global service capabilities, we view the prospects of the group with confidence.”