Property profits helped boost underlying annual earnings at Dairy Crest, which saw its shares fall in early trading today (22 May).

Dairy Crest, the owner of Cathedral City cheese and Clover butter, booked a 31% rise in adjusted pre-tax profits to GBP65.3m (US$110.1m) for the year to the end of March.

The fall in residential milk sales is leading the UK processor to sell depots. In its last financial year, the company offloaded a site in Nine Elms in south London, which generated a profit of GBP15.3m. Total property profits stood at GBP18.2m.

The company saw sales inch up 1% to GBP1.39bn. The combined sales of Dairy Crest’s four key brands – which also include Country Life margarine and Frijj milkshake – were up 4%.

However, while Cathedral City gained market share, the three other brands lost share.

Profits from Dairy Crest’s dairies and cheese and whey divisions grew year-on-year. Earnings from spreads and butter fell.

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By GlobalData

CEO Mark Allen described trading conditions as “challenging” but added the company was “confident” all three divisions could see profits grow “in the medium term”.

Shares in Dairy Crest were down 2.91% at 446.6p at 10:01 BST.

Click here for the full statement from Dairy Crest.