15 November 2001
Unigate business boosts Crest

By FWi staff

DAIRY CRESTS takeover of Unigates cheese and milk business has boosted business, with interim pre-tax profits figures showing an increase of almost 40%.

Excluding exceptional costs, interim pre-tax profits in the six months to September increased 39% from 24.4 million to 33.8m.

Unigate helped boost operating profits by 43% and key brands such as Clover dairy spread and Cathedral City cheese achieved volume growth of up to 25%.

Dairy Crest chief executive John Houliston said he was “very pleased” with the results achieved within challenging trading conditions.

The Daily Telegraph reports that the group came through the foot-and-mouth crisis almost unscathed.

“Farmers have been producing more milk than forecast,” said Mr Houliston, who steps down next year after 13 years.

In a commentary, the Financial Times asks: “Who would have thought that, when Dairy Crest floated five years ago as the processing arm of the old Milk Marketing Board, it would become the sector leader while others faltered?”

It says that Dairy Crests move into branded high-value products will serve it well in the tough dairy market.

The share price was up 1.5p to 371.5p.