Dairy products company Arla Foods UK has announced increased sales and underlying pre-tax profit for the year to 30 September 2005 helped by rising sales of milk to supermarkets.

Sales from continuing operations were GBP1.32bn (US$2.27bn), compared with GBP1.26bn in the previous year. Underlying pre-tax profit was GBP44.5m, compared with GBP43.2m a year ago.

The company said its Lurpak brand had gained market share, while Anchor had performed well, aided by the launch of Anchor Lighter Spreadable.

Its UK supermarket milk volume increased by 4% and sales to Asda, Morrisons, Tesco and the supermarket sector were the highest ever achieved.

A major investment programme is on track, with the completion of a second phase at Stourton dairy in Leeds, its Lockerbie dairy to begin production in December and further substantial investments made at Oakthorpe, Hatfield and Manchester plants

"We anticipate continued growth in our key brands, supported by effective marketing programmes and the launch of new products," said chairman Sir David Naish. "The completion of our major investment programme gives us an excellent asset base, truly national distribution capabilities and strong technical resources to support continued innovation.  Allied to our excellent people and our growing partnership with producers, I believe that these resources allow us to view our future prospects with confidence."