Dairy Crest to meet expected profits

Dairy Crest says it has slashed borrowing by more than 30% in the last eighteen months, according to its last trading update before its full year results are released in mid May.

The company said it expected profits to be in line with expectations and ahead of the previous year. Dairy Crest says it has reduced debt by £140m to £350m since late 2008. Year-end debt is expected to be £65m lower than at 31 March 2009.

Dairy Crest said it had seen strong performance from its dairies division which had benefitted from lower costs. However, this had been partly offset by its spreads and cheese business due to lower cheese stock profits and higher advertising spend.

The company says it plans to invest £75m in updating its liquid milk dairies which it expects will provide a “good payback” in improved efficiencies.

Chief executive Mark Allen said: “This has been a year of strong progress for Dairy Crest in which we have consistently delivered on our strategy.

“Increased investment in innovation and marketing, paid for by efficiency improvements, has contributed to another year of encouraging growth in added-value sales, which in turn has underpinned higher profits.”