Glanbia posted a 7.8% leap in annual pre-tax profit despite a drop in sales.

For the year ended January 4 pre-tax profit before exceptional items rose to 71.8m euros from 66.6m euros last year as the group continued to benefit from “good cash management”, which was reflected in lower interest costs.

Glanbia took an exceptional charge of 79.9m euros mainly linked to the exit from UK consumer meats and foodservice distribution in July 2002.

Total sales dropped 11.8% to 2.4bn euros. In the UK turnover fell to 678.5m euros from 808.3m euros last year while turnover in Ireland was down at 496.6m euros compared to 549.8m euros in 2001.

The Irish food group said a strong performance from its consumer foods division and a “satisfactory” performance in the US operations and agribusiness offset the impact of weak international dairy markets on Irish food operations.

Group managing director John Moloney said: “Continued growth in our consumer foods and nutritional ingredients activities boosted operating margins.

“Glanbia is better focused following restructuring and a progressive exit from non-core businesses.”