UK dairy group Robert Wiseman Dairies has posted a 3.8% increase in turnover for the first six months of the year to GBP291.9m (US$554.7m), with volumes increasing by 3.1% to 708.7m litres.

Pre-tax profit rose by 41.4% to GBP17.1m, while earnings per share were 44.1% higher at 16.36p. Operating profit increased by 40.1% to GBP17.5m, but excluding property gains profit at the operating level was up 34.0% at GBP16.7m.

“Following a difficult period which included major supermarket contract changes and exceptional inflationary costs, the group has demonstrated that margins are slowly recovering and that we are heading in the right direction,” said chief executive Robert Wiseman. “The development of our new dairy, a significant increase in our share of the organics market, and good relationships with our customers, leaves us in a confident mood about our future prospects.”

During the half-year, major supply agreements with supermarket chains Sainsbury’s and Somerfield were renewed, the company said. In addition, a new supply contract with 500-store convenience chain One Stop began in June 2006 and has performed in line with expectations.

Wiseman also said that it had grown its share of the organic milk sector through new contracts from Tesco and Horizon Organic Dairy. Sales of extended shelf life milk (ESL) also continued to grow steadily. Wiseman also said that the development of its GBP46m Bridgwater dairy was on schedule for completion in late-2007.