Robert Wiseman Dairies profits fall

Profits at Robert Wiseman Dairies fell more than 40% in the past six months as it battled against rising costs and tough market conditions.

Profit before tax in the six months to 1 October 2011 was 41.6% lower than the same period in 2010 at £11.8m, and turnover up slightly (1%) at £457.7m.

Operating profit fell 40.6% to £12.5m, although benefitted from a £1m reduction in the amount payable to the Office of Fair Trading and a £200,000 gain on the disposal of assets following restructuring. After adjusting for this, underlying operating profit was £11.3m, down almost 47% on 2010.

“The economic environment remains difficult, which increases the challenge of recovering increased costs,” a statement said. “We will remain focused on reducing costs to protect our margins for the remainder of the year and will seek to restore margins to an acceptable level as market conditions improve.

“Despite the difficult conditions, we remain confident that our first-class facilities and strong balance sheet with low debt levels provide a sound basis for the business going forward.”

In a bid to increase consumption of fresh milk, RWD has invested £2m in a joint venture with New Zealand dairy business A2 Corporation to launch a range of products next summer suitable for people with self-diagnosed intolerance of milk.

The range of “a2 Milk” products comes from cows selected to produce only the A2 beta-casein protein. The milk has been available for several years in Australia, where it is said to have improved symptoms among people with self-diagnosed intolerance of milk but are not medically diagnosed as being lactose intolerant.

“By introducing a2 Milk alongside our existing range of fresh milk products, we have an exciting opportunity to bring people back to dairy and grow the market for fresh milk in Britain,” said Billy Keane, managing director of Robert Wiseman Dairies.

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