Irish convenience food group Greencore posted a 43% jump in first-half operating profits today (25 May) as disposals allowed the company to focus on its core operations and paydown debt.

In its interim management statement, the company revealed that operating profit increased to EUR27.7m (US$33.8m), while pre-tax profit rose to EUR26.49m from a pre-tax loss of EUR4.06m last year.

Revenues rose to EUR434.5m, up 2.1%. Greencore said that convenience food sales were strong in the half, although the group admitted that it was up against a weak comparison last year.

"We remain on track to deliver good operating profit growth in full-year 2010 in convenience foods, albeit with the seasonally more important summer period to come and a more demanding comparative in the second half than was the case in the first half of the year,” the company said in a statement.

During the six month period, Greencore disposed of its malt and water business, enabling it to “tighten” its balance sheet and reduce debt by 42%.

Commenting on the result, CEO Patrick Coveney said: “We have much still to do to deliver on the potential of our business, but we go forward with a clear strategy, a strong stable team and excellent performance momentum.”