United Biscuits has announced “a strong performance in a changing marketplace” as sales grew by 3.1% to £1.3bn in 2002.

The company’s operating margin also increased from 11.6% in 2000 to 14% in 2002 due to a combination of sales growth and a cost reduction programme which saved £70m over the past two years.

Chairman and chief executive Malcolm Ritchie said United Biscuits key brands, which include McVitie’s, Hula Hoops and KP, benefited from product innovation and marketing support and a growth in the biscuits and snacks sector.

“Looking forward we are well placed to drive further growth in sales and profitability. We will continue to exploit the potential of our key brands in our chosen markets and maintain our cost reduction programme,” said Ritchie.