Robert Wiseman Dairies is confident it can further rebuild margins after the company saw operating profits fall by 8.6% in the past financial year.

The annual results for 53 weeks ended 4 April revealed that while sales volumes were up 6.9% on the previous year to a record 1.62bn litres and turnover up 17.4% to £847.7m, adjusted operating profit fell 8.6% to £35.1m, equivalent to 2.17p/litre.

Earnings per share were down 65.7% on 2008 to 9.19p.

“The overall results for the year are satisfactory given the decline in margins experienced in the first half of the year and we have been successful in rebuilding margins in the second half to provide a solid base for our business going forward,” RWD chairman Alan Wiseman said.

The past 12 months saw considerable volatility, particularly in oil-related costs (eg, HDPE resin) and bulk cream revenues, he added.

“While we are pleased with the improved profits in the second half, we recognise that the combination of the pressure on costs and ongoing competitive pressures is likely to result in our operating margin pence per litre in the current year being similar to the average achieved in the 53-week period to 4 April 2009.

“Given the low debt carried by the Group, the continued strong cash flows, excellent workforce, facilities and continued investment in the business, we are confident of growing volumes and continuing to rebuild margins over the medium-term.”