Irish food group IAWS posted a jump in interim pre-tax profit boosted by a sales increase of 11% within its food activities.

For the six months to January 31 pre-tax profit rose 21% to 27.64m euros helped by a strong performance from the group’s bakery divisions Cuisine de France and Delice de France in the UK.

The group said it anticipated further growth in the medium term from the £20bn-a-year UK convenience food market as a result of the structural changes in convenience retailing - referring to the recent acquisitions of c-stores by leading retailers such as Tesco and the Co-op.

Group sales were flat at 571.7m euros compared to 570.9m euros in 2002 while underlying sales rose 6%.

Underlying sales growth from food was 11% compared with a 0.9% fall in sales from its nutrition/agri business which was hit by reduced sales in the UK fertiliser business.