UK cake maker Lees Foods today (29 September) posted a 43% jump in half-year pre-tax profits on the back of higher sales and improved efficiency.

The group reported pre-tax profits of GBP562,000 (US$888,836) for the six months to the end of June as sales climbed 9% to GBP9.6m.

Lees said its gross profit was up 14% at GBP3.2m, while its earnings per share rose 46% to 17.2p.

“Sales have benefited from the general uplift within the major multiples in the food sector across the Lees’ product range and we have increased our market penetration in the area of foodservice,” chief executive Clive Miquel said.

“Increased focus on production planning has also helped generate greater efficiencies and cost savings and we are continuing to assess how we can improve production capabilities at both sites.”

Miquel added: “Looking ahead to the full year performance, despite raw material costs remaining uncertain, we expect both sales and pre-tax profits to be in line with market forecasts. The full impact of commodity costs increases into 2011 is not yet clear, but we will continue to focus on improving efficiency to mitigate against potential cost pressures as well as looking to develop new opportunities with both existing and new customers through new product development which remains core to the company’s growth strategy.”

Shares in Lees were up 4.4% at 214p at 10:04 BST this morning.