Finsbury Food Group has announced rising sales for the six months to 1 January 2011, driven by a return to growth of its Cake division, and a strong performance in Bread and Free From.

The leading cake, bread and gluten-free bakery manufacturer saw sales in its Cake division rise 3% to £64.2m, “reversing the declining trend of the previous year”.

It also announced it had added to its licensed portfolio by securing the Disney small cake licence, with effect from April 2011. Chief executive John Duffy told British Baker this would result in a raft of new product launches around Easter time, and also later in the year.

Commenting on what had driven the growth in the Cake division he said that, late last year, the firm had started to see increased interest from customers in the more premium and innovative lines.

“This has now translated into quite a number of premium launches, which have either just happened or are due to happen around the Easter period, which is encouraging for us,” said Duffy.

“In the first half of the year we promoted pretty heavily [...] and invested significantly to keep people interested in the category. Going forward we hope some of the innovation and NPD can take the lead versus that very heavy promotional spend.”

Sales in Bread and Free From increased 14% to £23.6m, growing 5% on a like-for-like basis. Duffy said this growth was primarily down to the success of the Genius brand, but also due to the relaunch and investment in its Vogel’s brand.

“We’ve also got some NPD through the new joint venture agreement with Genius, which we’d like to get on to the market in the next six to nine months,” said Duffy.

He added that, over the recessionary period, the group had been focused primarily on driving organic growth, rather than through acquisitions. “We’ve still got a bit more work to do on organic growth in the coming year, but past that, we could be in a position to return to some acquisition-driven growth.”

Group revenue was up 6% to £87.8m, while profit before tax rose 3% to £1.9m. It also decreased its net debt by 9% to £36.8m.

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