Agri-Food group IAWS has reported a 22.6% increase in pre-tax profits for the six months to the end of January. Group pre-tax profits rose to €49.4 million (£33.9m) on sales up by 13.4% to €715m (£492m).

The Delice de France and Cuisine de France owner said growth at its food business was satisfactory, despite a tough market and rising costs. Strong growth was seen in all food markets, particularly in the USA, where IAWS operates businesses including La Brea, IAWS CEO Owen Killiam said in a statement. "The food division is benefiting from its position in growth categories and continued investment in research and development," he added.

Profit in Europe was boosted by the 2004 acquisition of French bakery supplier Groupe Hubert. IAWS Food Europe division recorded sales growth of 23.7% to €421m (£289.6m), while operating profits rose by 39.6% to €33.9m (£23.2m). Its Food USA reported a 24.3% sales rise to €65m (£44.7m), while operating profits increased by 33.4% to €7m (£4.8m).

Operating profits within the group’s Agribusiness division fell by by 16.5% to E5.1m (£3.5m) for the six-month period. however, IAWS said approximatel 80% of its profits come through in the second half of the year.