Convenience food group Greencore has reported higher revenues for the six months to the end of March, but also reported a loss before tax for the six month period.

Greencore said its half year revenues rose by 20.1% to £925.8m, but it posted a loss before tax of £6.2m due to lower operating profit and increased finance costs.

The group, which is the biggest pre-packed sandwich maker in the UK, reported an adjusted operating profit of £11.8m for the six month period, down from £17.2m the same time last year.

The company noted that inflation significantly increased year on year compared to last year, but said that commodity inflation has been largely recovered through commodity trackers and dialogue with customers.

"Other operational and fixed cost inflation was primarily offset through cost efficiencies and mitigation activities. A lag in inflation is expected to be largely recovered in the second half of the year," it added.

It said that while the UK consumer spending environment remains challenging, Greencore has continued to focus on improving profitability and returns and has taken decisive action across a number of initiatives in the first half to support profitability.

"The group expects to generate an FY23 outturn in line with current market expectations," it added.

Dalton Philips, Greencore's chief executive, said the company delivered strong revenue growth in the seasonally quieter first half of the year.

He said this was a clear demonstration of Greencore's ongoing resilience in what is a difficult consumer spending environment.

"While much of the top line momentum has been driven by recovery of inflation, it is encouraging to have achieved good manufactured volume growth, which speaks to the enduring structural demand for the categories in which we operate," he said.

"We are confident that we will continue to build on the momentum in the business in both revenues and efficiencies as we enter our peak seasonal trading period, and we expect to deliver a full year outturn in line with current market expectations," he added.

Greencore has returned £13.2m to shareholders in the first half of 2023 and has returned a total of £25m to date since it announced a recommencement of a value return to shareholders in May last year.

It said that a further £10m will be returned to shareholders in the form of a share buyback programme starting on May 30 as part of the wider commitment to return £50m to shareholders by May 2024.