Harry Potter cakes weave magic at Inter Link

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The Independent Online

Inter Link Foods yesterday said the growing demand for bite-sized snacks and Harry Potter novelty cakes had helped to boost profits at the cake maker by 10 per cent.

The baker, which also provides Spiderman, Winnie the Pooh and Barbie cakes to supermarkets, said it had enjoyed record levels of turnover, profits and earnings per share. Turnover was up 12 per cent to £51.4m as a result of 6 per cent growth in organic sales. Pre-tax profits rose 10 per cent to £3m.

Jeremy Hamer, the company's chairman, said there were more licensing deals in the pipeline.

"We have our day-to-day cake favourites, but there is also growth in the more fashionable lines that go hand in hand with film releases. The next Harry Potter film is out in the autumn, and we have Spiderman 2 to link up with. Magic Roundabout is also just about to be re-released, which will provide a good opportunity for us," Mr Hamer said.

Sales of individually wrapped cakes, which represent 50 per cent of the cake sector, have also been a huge growth area for Inter Link.

"Families will very rarely sit down on a Sunday afternoon and cut a cake with their tea. Household demographics are changing and people live in much smaller units," Mr Hamer said.

"The trend for bite-sized products is growing, with plenty of demand for individually wrapped products to stick in lunch boxes, eat in the car, impulse buys at petrol stations. We sell lots of tubs of miniature chocolate rolls that you can just shove in your mouth in one go."

Mr Hamer promised further growth for the company, saying he wanted Inter Link to be the second largest cake producer in the UK behind Kipling. It estimates the UK cake market is worth up to £1.8bn and says 69 per cent of people in the UK buy cake on a regular basis. Profits are expected to rise to £5.5m next year.

Inter Link said yesterday it was appointing a managing director to assist its chief executive, Alwin Thompson. Paul Griffiths, a former director at Asda, will take up the new role on 1 September. He will manage Inter Link's distribution businesses.

The company bought Soreen, the UK's third biggest branded cake maker, in February for £8.4m. Mr Hamer said the group was still on the look out for more acquisitions.

This is Inter Link's fifth year of profit growth since it floated on the Alternative Investment Market in 1998. Its shares have more than tripled in the past five years, and yesterday closed up 1p at 365p.