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Tuesday, 14 May, 2002, 08:31 GMT 09:31 UK
Milk group's profits down
Wiseman milk
Wiseman remains under investigation by the OFT
Three deals with major supermarket chains helped Robert Wiseman Dairies to ship more than one billion litres of milk and cream for the first time.

But profits fell from 18.5m to 16.5m because of a rise in interest payments and a number of one-off charges, including the cost of defending an Office of Fair Trading investigation.

The OFT is looking at milk supply to the middle market, which includes convenience stores and corner shops, in Scotland.

The Glasgow-based group has spent 700,000 on legal and professional fees so far but said it expected the OFT to report its findings within the next couple of months.

Its dairy in Droitwich Spa, West Midlands, which has now been open for just over a year, helped to life sales.

Turnover up

The facility is part of a planned expansion out of the group's Scottish heartland and volumes processed at the plant grew to the equivalent of more than 200 million litres annually by the year end.

Overall sales of liquid milk went up by13.4% to reach 920 million litres for the year to March 2002, helping total annualised volumes hit more than 1 billion litres for the first time.

This, acquisitions and higher milk prices meant group turnover leapt 23.6% to 371.1m.

Sainsburys milk
Supermarket contracts have helped the figures

Chairman Alan Wiseman said: "Sales volumes in England and Wales now account for over 60% of our throughput and were helped by the new Sainsbury's contract and an increased store allocation with both Safeway and Somerfield.

"Our overall strategy remains unchanged and we look forward to the challenge of building our volumes in England and Wales in the period ahead."

Looking ahead, Mr Wiseman said the group would focus on upping volumes in the south west and south east, adding that capacity could be increased at Droitwich Spa if needed.

Shares dividend

As well as Safeway, Somerfield and Sainsbury's, Robert Wiseman also supplies Asda and Tesco.

However, Mr Wiseman said the group would be "fighting to win back Morrisons" after the supermarket chain cancelled its contract last year.

Shareholders will receive a total dividend of 4.85p per share, up 3.2% on the previous year.

See also:

08 Apr 02 | Scotland
Scots dairy supplies Sainsbury's
14 Sep 01 | Scotland
Milk firm avoids price sanction
25 Jun 01 | Scotland
Dairy firm faces price cap
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