Alba Trees, the East Lothian plant and tree nursery, is enjoying a financial upturn under new ownership.

The firm, one of Scotland's smallest publicly-traded businesses, recorded a pre-tax profit of £59,450 in the six months to February 28, compared with a loss of £81,398 for the same period last year.

Sales climbed from £846,097 last time to £1,030,257, a rise which the firm attributed to increased exports to Ireland and higher sales to schools and youth groups through the Woodland Trust.

Buccleuch Estates, the rural management company owned by the Duke of Buccleuch, acquired a majority stake in Alba in late 2005. This came after Guernsey value investor David Barry, previously Alba's biggest single investor, had unsuccessfully attempted to thwart the bid by unseating Alba's directors, who backed the takeover.

Chairman Peter Church sounded a note of caution yesterday: "This overall success is against the market trend. Figures from the Forestry Commission Scotland forecast a reduction in new planting. Against this, large restocking programmes are being rushed through to take advantage of grants that will shortly be reduced significantly.

"This points to the future being somewhat uncertain and justifies the efforts being made to develop alternative markets to forestry."