Tasty treat for Lees as profit tops £1m and shares rise 10%

MACAROON maker Lees Foods savoured a more than 10 per cent boost to its share price after it revealed it had broken through the £1 million profit barrier for the first time in its history.

The Scottish confectioner, which also makes coconut snowballs and meringues at its Coatbridge factory, hailed an increase in sales - and price rises - which helped the firm rake in just over 1m in pre-tax profits before exceptional charges in 2010.

The 79,416 exception charge covering the cost of issuing shares to employees gave the firm an actual pre-tax profit of 949,968.

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Sales grew at both the firm's Lees factory and its waffle-cone making business, Waverley Bakery, with an overall increase from 18.2m to 18.7m

The firm, which makes more than 50 million snowballs a year, said that during the year it had focused on developing its Lees brand with the successful launch of a new sweet, Lees Mallow Dreams, earlier this year.

The small rise in sales in 2010 was due to widening the firm's customer base into the catering sector and Europe, despite the rising prices of its raw materials and packaging supplies.

Chief executive Clive Miquel said: "Whilst the outlook for commodity prices remains unsettled, we are confident that we have the measures in place to continue our development. The tough decisions that we have taken to mitigate cost increases have made us leaner and put us in a strong position to achieve our future growth ambitions.

As a result of "a year of solid growth", Lees upped its dividend per share to 7.5p, up from 7.2p last year

The firm's shares rose 10.6 per cent or 19p to 197.5p.