Finsbury Food Group, the UK baker, has said it expect profits to be “significantly” ahead of expectations for its full-year.

The cake, bread and bakery foods producer said today (15 July) that a successful equity placing in the first half, combined with the sale of its free-from division in the second half, has “transformed” the company’s balance sheet. Total debt is now lower than expected at below GBP10m (US$15.1m) versus GBP34m a year ago.

An improved balance sheet as allowed the group to step up investment in its bread business. 

Finsbury said group like-for-like sales, excluding free-from, were in line with expectations. It added that while its consumer markets remain “challenging”, the company’s continued focus on growth “in the right areas”, combined with “relentless cost and efficiency initiatives” has enabled the group to achieve improved operating margins year-on-year.

“The sale of free from has proven hugely beneficial for the group, allowing further investment and laying the foundation for continued growth,” said chief executive John Duffy. “The board is committed to continuing the successes of the past year, and I am confident that our improvements will assure shareholders and consumers alike of the company’s fortitude and resilience in what continue to be adverse trading conditions.”

Finsbury is stepping up capital investment in its core UK bakery division and earlier this month announced and expansion of capacity at its bread site in Salisbury.

Click here to read an interview with Duffy about the potential he sees in bread and the firm’s growth plans.