UK dairy company Arla Foods UK has released its first trading result since it was created last year through the merger of Express Dairies and the UK unit of Denmark’s Arla Foods.

The company said underlying pre-tax profit, before exceptional items and goodwill amortisation, was £21.1m (US$38.8m) for the six months ended 31 March 2004. Continuing sales were £697.9m, the company said.

Chairman David Naish said the company’s branded dairy products business continued to perform strongly. Its Lurpak brand grew 10%, while Anchor Spreadable showed growth of 13%, and Cravendale grew 23%.

“All our experience to date indicates that the merger will deliver all its anticipated benefits, and I look forward to reporting continued progress in the remainder of the current reporting period and in the longer term,” Naish said.