Three flour mills were the principal contributors to Carr’s Milling Industries’ food division seeing an 18% rise in pre-tax profits to £4.57m, in the 26 weeks to March 4, 2006. Sales were up over 40% to £110.4m.

Carr’s said there was strong trading in the food division as it benefited from the integration of the mills of Hutchisons in Kirkcaldy and Greens in Maldon, Essex, which were acquired with the purchase of Meneba UK in November 2004 for £4.7m. Volumes to selected industrial customers continued to grow, as did sales of the Carrs Breadmaker retail products.

The two acquired facilities and the original Carr’s mill in Silloth, Cumbria, all worked at close to capacity over the period. Silloth benefited from a return to normal volumes at the United Biscuits factory in Carlisle, which was badly affected by flooding in January 2005.

A price increase, implemented in September last year, offset what chairman Richard Inglewood termed a sharp rise in electricity and distribution costs.

According to Mr Inglewood, flour is continuing to “trade strongly in a satisfactory market”. Along with the successful integration of Meneba’s operations, this is expected to see a further “substantial increase” in the food division’s contribution to group profit over the year.