MACPHIE of Glenbervie, the family-owned Scottish food company, achieved a sharp rise in underlying trading profit from £1.6 million to £2m in its last financial year to March as turnover edged higher.

Finance director Raymond Howitt told The Herald that the food ingredients manufacturer, which is headquartered seven miles south of Stonehaven, was encouraged by its progress so far in the current financial year to March 2013 given the challenging times.

Turnover rose from £44.7m to £45.4m in the year to March 31, in spite of the transfer of a meat-processing business which specialises in burgers to a Scottish joint venture partner in September 2011.

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Macphie's profit had been hit in the year to March 2011 by operational problems on one important production line. The company, which produces ready-to-use culinary sweet and savoury sauces, fruit coulis for desserts, bakery mixes and icings, highlighted that profit had in the year to March 2012 returned to the "more normal level" of two years earlier.

The latest accounts of Macphie, which have just become available from Companies House, show a sharp rise in exports in the 12 months to March 31.

Exports accounted for £6.18m of turnover in the year to March, up from £5.23m in the prior 12 months.

Macphie supplies ingredients to the bakery sector, food manufacturers and to food-service companies, which in turn supply the likes of hotels, pubs and restaurants.

It is in the early stages of a move into selling desserts under its own name through retailers. These Macphie of Glenbervie desserts include creme brulee and lemon pots.

Mr Howitt said the company was very encouraged about this fledgling operation after receiving feedback from retailers.

Macphie, run by Alastair Macphie, employs around 250 people. Around 200 staff are based at its head office site with about 50 at Uddingston in South Lanarkshire.