British sugar and sweetener group Tate & Lyle has reported an 18 per cent rise in annual profits. The firm, which produces branded sugars and syrups, soft drink sweeteners and industrial starches, posted a pre-tax profit of £187 million (€262m) for the year ending March 31.
Profit before tax, exceptional items and goodwill amortisation increased by 43 per cent, while diluted earnings per share before exceptional items and goodwill amortisation increased by 52 per cent to 33.6p. Net debt was reduced by £168 million to £471 million.
"Over the last two years the group's balance sheet has been significantly strengthened and our businesses are now increasingly focused," said chairman Sir David Lees.
" Our strategy is to continue this trend while never losingsight of the opportunities available to us as a high quality low cost global starch andsweetener business."
With profits last year having benefited from £11 million of unusual income, Lees believes that profit growth in the current year will be primarily dependent on the group's ability to improve efficiency, to furtherreduce its cost base and to continue the development of the market for value addedand branded products.
"Most of our businesses continue to perform well although the difficulties experienced in oureastern sugar and citric acid operations, which worsened as last year progressed, show nosign of abating," said Lees.
"Consequently, we expect a more even split of profits in the current yearthan in the previous year when the first half was particularly strong. We assess the outturn of the annual US and European sweetener pricing rounds concludedlast March as being sufficient to cover cost increases but insufficient to impact on margins."