ARLA FOODS UK has released its preliminary financial results for the 18 months to Sept 30, 2004.

The results include 11 months of trading since the merger of Express Dairies and Arla Foods last October.

Chief Executive Neil Davidson said the rationalisation and integration process was set to come in one year ahead of schedule and on budget. Costs of 36.5m associated with the merger pulled profits back to 1.9m on sales of 1.7bn.

Underlying pre-tax profit was of 52.1m, but Mr Davidson said the more significant value was the 42m underlying pro-forma pre-tax profit for the 12 months to the end of September, in line with City expectations.