The UK cider group, Merrydown, has posted a pre-tax profit for the year to the end of March, 2003 of £1.37m, up from £692,000 in the previous fiscal year. Turnover rose from £18.92m to £20.38m.

Chief executive, Nigel Freer, paid tribute to the strong showing for the year from Merrydown's Shloer brand which has made a key contribution to the company's performance.

"We are delighted with the excellent growth in sales of Shloer which has continued since the year end," Freer said. "The investment made in the brand, which now accounts for almost 70% of group turnover, provides a strong platform from which to take advantage of the significant potential to expand this growth both through existing products and brand extensions. The Board has every confidence of further strong progress in the year ahead and thereafter."

The company also said that its Merrydown Vintage had performed well, maintaining sales and profitability during the year in a tough market.