Greencore’s drive into the food-to-go sector in the US and UK lifted the group’s first-half sales.

The company said that sales in the six months to 28 March rose 8.2%, or 9.3% on a like-for-like basis. Revenue from its convenience food business rose 9.6% in the period.

CEO Patrick Coveney said gains were underpinned by investments in facilities in the US and UK. “Our strategy of focusing on the food to go market is working well in both the UK and the US. Over the past six months we have stepped up our strategic investments in Minneapolis, Jacksonville, Rhode Island and Northampton to support confirmed new business with several large customers,” he revealed.

Greencore also expanded its operating profit margin by 30 basis points in the period. Operating profit climbed 14% to GBP37.2m as a consequence. Profit before tax increased 21% to GBP30.7m, the company added.

Investec Securities analyst Nicola Mallard said that she expects first-half momentum to flow through into the back half of the year. “We expect a positive performance to continue into 2H, although the comps do get tougher in both markets. There is also good momentum into FY15E with new business wins,” she wrote in a note to investors.

Shares in Greencore had climbed 7.8% at 11am (BST).