Pub operator Greene King reported a 5.2 per cent rise in first half revenue of 595.4m pounds as the good summer weather offset consumer caution.
Pre-tax profit in the 24 weeks to October 24th came to £85.6m, up 5.7% on the prior year, while adjusted earnings per share was up 6.35% to 30.4p.
Operating profit increased 3.7% to £127.2m despite the operating margin falling 0.3 percentage points to 21.4%.
Retail like-for-like sales up 3.5% as the retail margin jumped 10 basis points to 20.5%.
Average earnings before interest, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) per pub grew 5.2% in Pub Partners. The Brewing and Brands division saw core own-brewed volume rise 1.7%.
The dividend was raised 6.3% to 7.60p per share.
"This is a very pleasing set of figures and we have made great progress in the first half of this financial year," said Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Rooney Anand.
"Growth has once again been led by our retail business, which grew profits by 8% over last year, helped by a combination of organic growth and further strategic acquisitions. The tenanted and brewing businesses also performed well, helping the overall business to deliver healthy earnings, dividend growth and further improvement in our return on capital employed."
During the period the company expanded its Retail business, spending £9.6m on acquiring 14 new sites and exchanging a further six sites for development. The company now has 1,008 Retail sites, up from 888 sites when the group started its expansion strategy.
Greene King also disposed of sites that were no longer considered to have a long-term sustainable future. Most of the disposals were within Pub Partners, from which 59 sites were cut in the period.
At the end of the period Pub Partners trading estate totalled 1,218 sites, down from a peak of 1,700. The disposed properties raised proceeds of £16.6m, just ahead of book value.
Looking ahead the CEO added: "While trading through the first half of the year and since the period-end has been strong, and the economic outlook looks to be improving, customers remain careful with their money, particularly outside London and the South East. We believe that our strategy, tailored for these conditions, will continue to deliver growth and further value to our shareholders across the rest of this year and beyond."
First-half profits plummeted at ingredients specialist Real Good Food as it suffered from a dramatic drop in EU sugar prices and continued its reorganisation.
Higher costs meant that profits plunged 90% to £0.1m on sales down 5.6% to £130.1m in the six months to September 30th, meaning a soggy bottom line was down 71% to 0.4p.
Executive Chairman Pieter Totte added that the sugar distribution business Napier Brown faced a "significant challenge" over the coming months as it brought its buying book in line with the dramatic correction in EU sugar market prices, but that measures had already been put in place to counter this.
However, he pointed out that Napier Brown's sales volumes in both the industrial and retail markets increased significantly from the start of the new contract season in October 2013 and he anticipated the relaunched Whitworths sugar brand achieving a consumer sales value of more than £100m over the next 12 months.
Elsewhere within the group, branding and sales initiatives at baking ingredients business Renshaw, chocolate and jams maker R&W Scott and patisserie arm Haydens were delivering in line with expectations and management anticipated that in the next financial year some 25% of group sales will be represented by branded product.
"This demonstrates how our business model is evolving," said Totte.