Following a drop in pre-tax earnings for 2005/06, shortbread manufacturer Dean’s of Huntly has regained its profit momentum and has improved sales by close to 10% in 2006/07, MD Bill Dean told British Baker.

For the financial year ending June 30, profits were likely to be "on a par" with the 2004/05 level of £443,657, while turnover was on course to top £6 million, he said. These figures compare to, respectively, £161,677 and £5.6m for 2005/06. Last year’s reduced profits were due to higher costs of ingredients, packaging, labour and distribution, as well as to the costs of financing a £1m-plus investment in the company’s headquarters, spent on upping the production area at Huntly from 40,000 to 60,000sq ft in a project completed last summer, he said.

The company was now building a café, visitor centre and development kitchen - due for completion in August - and was planning to add new office and staff facilities in 2008, he added. Dean said the company was targeting sales of £7m for both 2007/08 and 2008/09, rising to £10m by 2012.

Supermarket, independent and own-label sales now make up around three-quarters of the company’s turnover; the gift and foodservice sectors account for, respectively, 15% and 3-4% while exports add a further 5%.

Recently, Dean’s has been developing a "Shortbread Biscuit Collection", aimed at the gift and export markets. Scheduled for launch in New York in early July, the range of "home-style" biscuits will appear in "a new packaging concept", Dean revealed.