Coatbridge / UK. (lf) Sweets and cakes maker Lees Foods PLC said the Group had an excellent year´s trading in the twelve months to December 2009, with pre-tax profits from continuing operations, before exceptional costs, increasing from 379’000 GBP to 843’000 GBP. Sales increased by 2,1 million GBP, from 16,1 million GBP to 18,2 million GBP, up by 13 percent. «Both companies in the Group, Lees of Scotland and Waverley Bakery, enjoyed record years in terms of sales and profits», Chairman Chris Greig said in a statement. Basic earnings per share, from continuing operations rose from 10,7 Pence to 18,0 Pence per share. Dividend increased by seven percent from 6,7 Pence to 7,2 Pence.
«Despite the recessionary environment, we have been successful in growing our total sales by 13 percent over the last year. This included growth of our existing range of teacakes, snowballs, confectionery, ice cream cones and meringues, together with the introduction of new products, and entering new product categories with our existing UK retail customers. In addition we started selling the Lees brand to a number of new export customers during the year in Kuwait, France, USA and Australia», said Chief Executive Clive Miquel in the same statement.
The Group´s profitability increased primarily as a result of this growth in sales, with Gross Profit contribution rising from 5,0 million GBP to 5,8 million GBP. Gross margins also increased from 31,2 percent to 32 percent. Selling and distribution costs, which include investment in customer promotions, increased in line with Sales from 2,35 million GBP to 2,67 million GBP. Despite a one-off charge of 230’000 GBP relating to the board restructuring, profit from operations grew by 46 percent to 639’000 GBP (2008: 438’000 GBP). Finance costs fell to 58’000 GBP (2008: 111’000 GBP) as the Group improved the net cash position to 375’000 GBP (2008: 44’000 GBP).