Convenience food group Uniq has posted a 70% rise in first half pre-tax profit albeit against a “particularly weak” performance last year and that the challenge would be to maintain the recovery.

To September 28 Uniq said pre-tax profit was £12.4m compared to last year’s loss of £28.2m. Turnover rose 3% to £446.2m, while net debt was reduced to £138.3m from £184.7m in March.

Having disposed of Wincanton logistics and Malton Foods last year, Uniq sold St Ivel yogurts to Danone for £32.5m and its spreads business to Dairy Crest for £86.5m during the summer.

Chief executive Bill Ronald was encouraged by the progress and that the group would concentrate on innovation in its chilled ready-meals and prepared foods.