Sales of pick'n'mix at Hancocks Cash & Carry have grown 6% in the past six months as independents fill the gap left by the demise of Woolworths.

The increase follows a 20% hike in pick'n'mix sales the previous year.

"Growth in pick'n'mix has come on the back of a record year last year, when Woolworths went under, and has gone from strength to strength," said Hancocks MD Mark Watson. "It is going into discounters, indies and supermarkets and becoming more widespread and readily available. Kids want to pick their own sweets. That shows no sign of slowing."

Strong pick'n'mix sales helped boost the confectionery wholesaler's turnover to £45m in the six months to June up 1.5% over the equivalent period last year. Net profits for the half-year were up 7%.

Hancocks said there had been a lack of NPD in the confectionery market. It aimed to capitalise by creating new packaging and ­formats for its own-label ranges, it said.

"There's not a lot of innovation from the branded boys," Watson said. "We have done more of our own packs by taking products and putting them in tubes, tins and various different guises to make them look more interesting and to hit price-points such as £1."

Sales from independent customers remained strong as they used Hancock's own-label products and lesser-known brands to give them a point of difference over the multiples, he added.