Irish food giant IAWS Group said it is satisfied with overall trading performance in the year to date, as it held its Annual General Meeting on January 30.

But chairman Denis Lucey said the company, which operates brands including Delice de France, Cuisine de France and Pierre’s, is only five months into its new financial year and it is too early to make predictions about the current year, particularly as over 60% of operating profit comes in the second half of the year.

IAWS now distributes bakery and convenience food products to over 50,000 outlets in Ireland, the UK, France, the USA and Canada, he told shareholders. The company had a successful financial year to July 31, 2005, with food sales up by 22.6% to E892 million (£609m). Like-for-like sales were up 12.1% year-on-year.

Mr Lucey said total operating profit was at a new high of E124.4m (£85.02m), which was an increase of 13.7% on the previous year.

In the UK bakery business, product and concept innovation, together with greater

market penetration, continued to be a driver of growth last year, IAWS said. This was a particularly strong performance given the challenging dynamics within the UK convenience retail category, according to IAWS.

Foodservice performed very well in the period and recovered substantially from the business interruption experienced in London in November 2004, when its Delice de France depot caught fire, it said.

In December 2004, the group made its largest ever acquisition, when it bought France’s

Groupe Hubert. This firm contributed E7.4m to operating profits between December and the year-end, added Mr Lucey.

IAWS will present its interim results on March 13.