Cost cutting and strong sales lift pre-tax profits by 22 per cent
LEES Foods saw pre-tax profits soar 22 per cent last year on strong sales of macaroons and snowball cakes.
The Coatbridge-based bakery and sweets maker said it broke the £1 million profit barrier for the first time in its history last year.
Profits before tax for the year to December 31 rose 22 per cent to £1.03 million compared to £840,000 a year earlier on sales of £18.65 million.
Year-end profits after tax and costs were £696,000 compared to £312,000 a year earlier.
The group - made up of Lees of Scotland, maker of macaroon bars and snowballs and Waverley bakery, which makes ice cream cones - said investment in promotions helped push sales up three per cent last year.
Lees also launched Lees Mallow Dreams earlier this year, which was its first new Lees branded product in several years.
The growth in sales led to a record year despite a sharp rise in packaging and raw material costs in the last quarter.
Lees warned in January it faced significant cost increases in the coming year due to rocketing commodity prices.
It said the price of coconut, an important ingredient in making more than 50 million snowball cakes each year, had more than doubled towards the end of 2010.
However the group said it had managed to off-set those rising costs in part to consumer prices and reducing raw material and packaging waste.
Chief executive, Clive Miquel, said: "Whilst the outlook for commodity prices remains unsettled we are confident that we have the measures in place to continue our development.
"The tough decisions that we have taken to mitigate cost increases have made us leaner and put us in a strong position to achieve our future growth ambitions."
Earnings per share rose 63 per cent to 29.28 pence and the group increased its dividend to 7.5 pence per share, up from 7.2 pence in 2009.