SNACK firm Glisten today posted a 12% rise in half-year profits in its last update before being taken over by Benecol maker Raisio.
The company, which makes cereal and fruit snack bars and holds the UK rights to make SunMaid raisins and Weightwatchers products, said pre-tax profits rose to £2.22 million in the six months to December 31, from £1.98 million the previous year.
Leeds-based Glisten said like-for-like sales grew 10% in the period, helped by a good start to the financial year last summer.
But it warned of challenges ahead in the short-term as consumers continue to focus on price.
The firm said today’s results would be its last as an AIM-listed company after shareholders last week approved an offer by the UK subsidiary of Finnish food group Raisio valuing the company at around £19.8 million.
Raisio - known in the UK for its Benecol range that claims to help reduce cholesterol - will complete the takeover subject to court approval.
Glisten chief executive Paul Simmonds said: "Most parts of our business are performing steadily and we are satisfied with progress to date this year, but remain cautious about continued sales growth during the second half of the year.
"We believe that consumer focus on both premium and better-for-you/healthier snacks will return strongly, but in the short term there is no doubt that the absolute priorities for many consumers continue to be price and value."
The firm said underlying sales in the first 11 weeks of the second half were in line with the same period last year.
Turnover in the first six months increased to £39 million, from £35.4 million.
Sales in its fruit and cereal division rose 14% to £14.3 million and operating profits increased 18% to £1.3 million helped by a better July and August.
The firm said overall demand was "inconsistent", with the sales rise achieved despite "a major customer de-stocking" during the half year.
It added that problems in its Halo Foods operation had been fully resolved and that performance was "back on track".
Last year the firm revealed a 49% plunge in underlying annual profits in the wake of challenging trading and accounting errors at Halo.
Glisten’s operations also include Lyme Regis Fine Foods, while it makes savoury snacks under the Dormen’s nut brand, which it bought in September 2007, when it also bought a 50% stake in Skinny Candy, marketed as a 99 calorie "guilt free" range of sweets.
The firm said its confectionery business was hit by price deflation and a trend for customers to switch to brands supported by promotional activity.
This had affected its own-label trade, particularly in the chocolate division, but Glisten said it had reacted by developing a range of fair-trade products under the Traidcraft brand, which it said was winning market share.
Sales in the division increased 3% to £16.2 million, while operating profits rose 7% to £1.5 million.
In the savoury arm, Dormen was said to have had a "steady" six months, while Weightwatcher snacks showed "good sales growth momentum".
Overall, sales in the division were up 21% to £8.5 million, while operating profits fell slightly to £800,000 as a result of investments in the Dormen business.
Glisten employs around 650 people across its Leeds head office and eight manufacturing sites in the UK - at Blackburn, Skegness, North Wales, Newport, Liphook in Hampshire, Swindon, London and Bolton.