- Finsbury Food Group's operating profits rose to £8.3m in the 26 weeks to the end of December - 4% up on last time.

The speciality bakery manufacturer of cake, bread and morning goods for the retail and foodservice channels said revenues were unchanged at £156.6m but operating margins increased to 5.3% from 5.1%.

The group also announced that it had secured a licence to launch a range of Mary Berry cakes in the second half.

Other highlights:

- Profit before tax of £7.9m up 5.3% (H1 2015: £7.5m)

- Adjusted diluted EPS, up 4.5% at 4.6p per share (H1 2015: 4.4p per share)

- Interim dividend per share increased 7.5% to 1.00p (H1 2015: 0.93p per share)

- Net debt of £21.0m equates to 0.8 (H1 2015: 0.9) times pro forma annualised EBITDA of the Group

Chief executive John Duffy said: "The latest set of results reflect a business that has transformed into a diverse, multi-channel speciality bakery group.

"We have delivered a strong first half performance and this demonstrates the benefits of the Group's investment and strategy implemented over prior years and reinforces our approach to innovation and diversification across our channels, customers and products.

"Our balance sheet remains solid, positioning the business well for future investment and the resulting benefits.

"Well documented market challenges persist, however the Group has prepared well and is continuing to work hard to mitigate against these.

"Furthermore, the Group's track record of exceptional growth and diversification over the prior years illustrates that it has the right strategy in place to continue to deliver growth and improved shareholder value over the coming years."

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