Dairy Crest's first loss as deliveries drop

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The Independent Online

The drop in demand for home milk deliveries and supermarket competition has caused Dairy Crest to post its first annual loss as a public company, after a £81.7m writedown.

It is closing bottling plants in Cambridgeshire and Aintree, but said its food business growth remains strong.

Dairy Crest took a £70.7m writedown on the value of the dairy arm and an £11m charge for the cost of closing the plants. That led to a pre-tax loss for the year to 31 March of £10.1m. But the foods business, including the flavoured milk drink Frijj, brought a 2 per cent rise in sales to £1.6bn for the year.

Mark Allen, the chief executive, said: "We are pleased with the results. Dairy has obviously had a tough time but we are still investing in key areas including Frijj. The food business has been excellent and our brands are strong."

He added that the aim is for dairy, which makes up two thirds of revenue, to become a "smaller but more profitable" area of the business.