Dairy Crest yesterday (9 November) posted a 25% increase in adjusted profit before tax, which rose to GBP31.8m (US$60.9m), on an improved performance from its dairies division and key brands. The company said that it expects to deliver a good outcome for the full year, with sales in the half having increased 6% to GBP622.6m.

The company said that during the past six months it had expanded its Country Life brand to cover cross-category products including premium cheese and organic milk, while the acquisition of Express Dairies had made Dairy Crest the nation's leading doorstep delivery service. Dairy Crest also divested from its less profitable non-branded retail dairy business during the half for GBP61.9m.

Announcing its interim results, the company also revealed that it has offered to buy European convenience food group Uniq's French spread business St Hubert for EUR370m.

Commenting on the last set of results to be released before his retirement, Drummond Hall, chief executive, said: "Dairy Crest has delivered strong profit growth in the first half, which together with our recent corporate activity, gives us a sound platform for the rest of the year.

"In the second half we will focus on realising the financial and operational benefits from these transactions and on further developing our brand portfolio. We continue to expect to deliver a good outcome for the full year, in spite of challenging trading conditions."