Irish fruit & veg group Fyffes today [Monday] reported a 44% rise in H1 pretax profits before e-commerce, exceptional items and goodwill to €36.8m (US$33.3m) as market conditions improved and a costcutting programme took hold.

Pretax profits for the six months ended 30 June rose to €30.44m from €20.54m in the same period last year. Adjusted diluted earnings per share, before e-commerce, rose from 5.08 cents last year to 7.22 cents, while the interim dividend payable to shareholders also inched up slightly to 1.15 cents.

Results outstripped analysts' expectations, which had put pretax profits at approximately €30m.

The half under review saw the suspension of operations at IngredientsNet.com, the online trading site partly funded by Fyffes. The closure saw Fyffes hit with a charge of €1.7m.

Turnover in the half climbed from €819m to €863.3m, while operating profit soared from €26.2m to €37.7m.

Chairman Neil McCann called the results "very satisfactory," referring to a significant improvement in local currency terms. A cost-trimming campaign, which was unveiled last year, is bearing fruit, while price hikes were effectively offsetting the impact of the strength of the dollar.