Strong demand for fresh prepared food in the UK and on the continent helped prepared food specialist Geest deliver double digit earnings and sales growth during 2000. Finance director Mark Pullen said the group will open at least four new UK facilities this year, in pasta, ready meals, bread and salads. A new ready meal line for a major UK retailer is launching "in the next few weeks". New acquisitions in the UK are likely to build on the group's entry into the desserts and cakes market with the acquisition of Isleport Foods. 0verseas purchases will fill gaps in the portfolio. Pretax profits were up 12% to £36.6m on sales up 18% to £622.8m. {{NEWS }}