Cereal maker Weetabix saw its profits in the UK grow by over 28% in 2009, despite sales of its main namesake brand being cannibalised by its Weetabix Bitesize line.

The company’s net profit grew to GBP97m (US$153m) for the year ended 26 December 2009, up 28.2% on the previous year.

Sales were up 2.5% to reach GBP322m, which the company said was below overall market growth, but “very much in line with expectations”.

According to accounts filed with Companies House, Weetabix’s sales for the year were driven by its cereal bar range, with its Alpen Light bars producing some “very strong like-for-like numbers”.

However, the company, owned by private-equity firm Lion Capital, said that overall Weetabix volumes were down “slightly” compared to the previous year, although the firm added that “the brand maintained its position as the largest selling breakfast cereal in the UK and sales value increased at a rate only slightly lower than the overall market”.

During the year, Weetabix said it decided to focus on the quality of its sales mix by reducing the proportion of volume being sold on promotion. However, the company said that “while core sales remained strong, this did lead to the loss of some promotional volume to both private label and to other branded manufacturers”.

Looking to the future, Weetabix said it plans to invest in marketing and product innovation, and its “cross-functional research and development team are continually investigating innovations that will create excitement in the cereal sector and provide valuable add-ons to our existing ranges”.