Yorkshire based cash & carry group Batleys was in buoyant mood after posting a sharp rise in profits for the first half. Although the steep climb in profit was partly attributed to the acquisition of six Wundpets depots in July, MD Len McCormick said the core cash & carry business had provided the main thrust of the growth. He rejected reports that the days of the unaffiliated retailer are numbered as independents increasingly sought the support of a symbol group and a delivered wholesaler to take on the might of the multiples. "We're not a Spar, or a Nisa or a Landmark," he said. "But we're still growing. The figures speak for themselves. We've also picked up some of Booker's slack." The company is still on the acquisition trail and has earmarked several sites in the south of England to add to its 18-strong C&C portfolio. Sales of cigarettes and alcohol have been particularly buoyant in recent months, said McCormick. "Customs & Excise is clearly having effect, although the only real way to tackle bootlegging is to harmonise duty." Pre-tax profit was up 77.9% to £2.6m on sales up 16.5% to £315.4m for the 26 weeks to October 27. {{NEWS }}