Confectioner Zetar this week revealed it had managed to recover all the business it lost when major customer Woolworths collapsed last year.

In interims covering April to October 2009, Zetar revealed sales had risen 7% year-on-year despite the loss of £1.5m worth of Woolies business.

The company, which specialises in licensed products such as Easter eggs and Advent calendars, generated £1.5m in pre-tax profits compared with a loss of £4.5m in the same period in 2008.

"Our results show that, for our products at least, people haven't stopped buying what they used to get from Woolies, they've just gone elsewhere," said group MD Clive Beecham. "Shoppers waiting until later before starting Christmas shopping meant growth was initially slow but it accelerated towards the year-end."

Beecham said growth in the second half was likely to be greater and estimated it would be around 10% in November and December as a result of the Christmas surge. Zetar was expanding its year-round products to reduce its strong Christmas and Easter sales bias, he added. The company also paid down net debt and cut payment times to some of its suppliers, reducing its level of trade debt.

Zetar CEO Ian Blackburn also announced the appointment of a new group finance director. Mark Stott will join from egg giant Noble Foods in March.

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