Food and consumer goods group Orkla has announced rises in sales and net profit for the first half of 2005.

Operating revenues for the first half were 27.316bn kroner (US$4.3bn), compared with 15.771bn I the same period last year. Pre-tax profit for the half was 3.668bn kroner, compared with 2.226bn last year.

Revenue for the second quarter was 14.043bn kroner, compared with 7.874bn last year, while pre-tax profit was 1.981bn kroner compared with 1.241bn last year.

The company's Orkla Foods division made sales of 6.464bn kroner in the first half, compared with 6.118bn last year, while its operating profit rose to 461m kroner from 458 last year. The foods division made sales of 3.310bn kroner in the second quarter, compared with 3.006bn last year, with operating profit at 280m kroner compared with 258m last year.

"Our financial position is very good and we still have substantial capacity for expansion," said group president and CEO Dag J Opedal.

In the first six months, operating revenues in the Branded Consumer Goods division increased by 10% compared with last year, mainly due to new acquisitions such as SladCo, Chips and several smaller companies.

There was progress in most markets, with the exception of Sweden, where the grocery market is affected by pressure on prices and the retail trade's focus on private labels, the company said.