IAWS, the Irish food and agricultural products group that is Ireland's 11th biggest listed company, with a market capitalisation of €934.3m (US$900.8m), has announced that its pre-tax profits for the last year stand at €70.3m, a rise of 17% from the previous year.

The company, which has seen its shares more than double in price since December 1997, developed from a cooperative selling agricultural equipment such as fertiliser, into a company which now sells speciality baked goods such as "Cuisine de France" baguettes, ready-to-go foods, fertilisers and other agricultural products.

The proportion of money coming in from the food side of the company has risen, so that food sales now account for 50% of group turnover and more than 60% of operating profit. Group turnover last year increased by 10.3% to €1.2bn.

IAWS has also expanded to the US. The company has spent $55m on the purchase of an 80% stake in US bakery La Brea, and is also producing baked goods for the Tim Horton's sandwich and doughnut chain in Ontario, which is part of Wendy's International. IAWS has also opened two new bread production plants in North America.