The biscuit manufacturer said solid performance elsewhere in northern and southern Europe had offset high raw material prices, retail price segmentation and poor weather in the UK.
It added that agreeing to sell its Benelux snacks business last month to local snacks firm Roger & Roger would improve its focus on core western European markets. It expects to complete the sale by the year-end. The business posted sales of £26.4m in 2003, generating losses of £4.7m.
UB said last month’s acquisition of Triunfo Produtos Alimentaires had made it the top biscuit supplier in Portugal with a 39% share. The company boasts annual sales of £55m.
Group turnover for the first half of 2004 fell to £652.5m compared to £655.4m last year. Pre-tax profit fell from £68m to £64.7m.
Malcolm Ritchie, UB chief executive, said: “Tough UK trading conditions reduced the effect of a solid performance in northern Europe and continued growth in southern Europe.”