Norwegian conglomerate Orkla has said plans to focus on brands are “on track” despite the unit delivering a drop in first-half profits today (20 July).

In September last year, the company revealed plans to focus on branded goods and use acquisitions to build its business in the sector.

Orkla, which owns consumer goods companies across the Nordic region, central and Eastern Europe, Russia and India, said there were “increasing opportunities” to buy branded goods firms, “particularly in the Nordic region”.

On the company’s earnings call today (20 July), Orkla president and CEO Åge Korsvold said the performance of the company’s consumer brands division was “stable” in the second quarter. Profits were on “a par” with the second quarter of 2011.

“During the quarter we announced a new organisational structure and group executive board focused on consumer brands, dedicated to supporting Orkla’s branded division. The process is on track and we are also on track in the reduction of our share portfolio. There is no change in strategy there.”

As part of the restructuring, Orkla had said it planned to sell aluminium business Sapa, chemicals unit Borregaard and its stake in renewable energy firm REC.

The timing of Easter and a loss of contract with Proctordia in its consumer brands division at the end of last year, however, had a negative impact on reported top line profit for the unit in the quarter, the company said.

In the first half of 2012, EBITDA slid 23% to NOK1.11bn (US$182.4m). Sales in the period also dropped, by 4% to NOK11.24bn.

The group, however, returned to profit in the period, with pre-tax profits amounting to NOK2.09bn (US$344.4m) compared to a loss of NOK472m last year.

Separately, Korsvold sounded an upbeat note on potential commodity cost increases for the remainder of 2012 as he told analysts the company does not see headwinds this year.

“Although the FAO food price index showed a decline in the second quarter, raw material prices are still at the high level,” he said. However, he added: “There are no indications that we again might be facing an international upturn in the price of raw materials in the short term.”

Orkla’s share price increased 3.91% to NOK41.74 at 15:41 BST.