Wholesaler DCS Europe's pre-tax profits have topped £1m for the first time, according to figures shown to The Grocer.

Its turnover rose 16% to £118m while pre-tax profits were up 69% to £1.7m in the year to December 2009.

"We are extremely focused on our strategy and as a result we have gained wins in all areas of the business," said founder and CEO Denys Shortt. "This is significant particularly during a year of recession in the market place. Our sales have also been helped by the demise of competitors, such as Vitality Group."

Sales of products made at its factory in Stratford-upon-Avon rose 307% to £5.7m, following a £1m expansion and increased demand for sanitising hand gels caused by the swine flu pandemic. Its export business increased sales by 86% to £9.1m, helped by the weaker pound.

Other areas that performed well included its own-label health and beauty range Enliven, which took more than £10m at retail, and the Poundzone iniative, which provides £1 health and beauty lines.

Shortt expects to grow turnover by 10% in 2010. Half of this would come through new customers with the remainder coming through increasing sales to existing customers, he said.

The business has recently launched in-house design agencies that specialise in computer software, graphics, websites and packaging, which should also contribute to growth.

DCS has also been on a recruitment drive to find the brightest graduates to help it meet its target to grow sales to £200m in the next five years. Its workforce had increased by 39% to 206 by the end of 2009.