Flavour and fragrance ingredients group Treatt today reported annual profits up by nearly a quarter on the previous year and ahead of its original forecasts.

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Revenue across the Bury St Edmunds-based company for the year to September 30 was largely flat, at £74.1million against £74m the previous year, with modest increases in the UK and Europe offset by small falls in the United States and the rest of the world.

However, group operating profit increased by 23%, from £5.6m to £6.9m, helped by imporved gross margins and cost control, and profit before tax and exceptional items was up by a similar margin at £6.2m, against £5.1m the previous year.

The bottom-line pre-tax profit included a one-off £1.1m hit from corporate finance and legal fees but was still 15% ahead, at £5.1m against £4.5m last time.

Treatt, which manufactures and supplies a range of conventional, organic and fair trade ingredients for the flavour, fragrance and consumer goods industries, has been persuing a more focused sales strategy, seeking to engage more effectively with customers that offer pontential for sustainable growth.

Chief executive Daemmon Reeve said: “These figures show clear improvements in Treatt’s performance as a result of the new strategy of focusing on core markets and value-added products.

“Early signs for the current year are encouraging but there remains a lot to do; driving growth, bearing down on costs and creating efficiencies across the business.”

Chairman Tim Jones added: “The performance of the group, in a year of significant change, has been very encouraging and it is pleasing to report that results for the last year were better than had been originally forecast.”

The board is proposing a final dividend of 13.0p per share, up from 10.4p a year ago, increasing the total for the year by 19%, to 18.5p from 15.5p per share.

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