Express Dairies has defended its debt reduction strategy from analysts' criticism that it has left itself overexposed to retailers.
One analyst said: "It has sold off a vast part of its business to cut debt leaving exposure to retailer margins. It needs to get returns up but I don't know if there is enough of the business left to do that."
Express Dairies executive director Tim Smith said: "Our two core businesses of supermarkets and urban deliveries are strong, whereas UHT and ingredients, which we shed, were cyclical and dependent on world markets. We are feeling stronger and more comfortable than a year ago, with debt down."
Smith said Express was looking to develop its supermarket business by investing in processing infrastructure so it could compete more effectively. And it also wanted to make its doorstep business profitable by next year, delivering parcels, packets and mail after obtaining its Postcomm licence.
Express posted interim pre-tax profit to September 30 up to £14m from £13.4m, on turnover of £347m down from £401m due to disposals. Net debt has fallen by £74.2m to £121.2m following the disposal of non-core businesses.

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