Logistics group Brambles posted a 23 per cent rise in underlying profits yesterday, despite a weaker performance from its waste business Cleanaway.
The figure of £378 million for the Anglo-Australian group was achieved after an "excellent year" at its CHEP pallets arm.
Cleanaway revealed an eight per cent fall in profits to £82 million, but Brambles - floated out of Redditch-based GKN some years ago - said the outlook was more promising as the business, the UK's second largest waste management company, was expected to show progress in the coming year.
It drew encouragement from significantly improved results at Cleanaway UK in the second half of the financial year while the Australian side of the division should benefit from restructuring initiatives.
Cleanaway sales in the UK increased six per cent in the year to £495 million, helped by municipal contracts and initiatives by management to secure better margin projects, particularly in commercial and industrial work.
CHEP sales worldwide were seven per cent higher in the year to June 30, at £1.49 billion, after a particularly strong showing from the division's operation covering the Americas.
All regions contributed to the CHEP profits improvement to £290 million, with the European arm showing a seven per cent gain in sales to £660 million and profits that were 17 per cent higher at £122 million.
The figures for CHEP - the world's largest supplier of pallets used for transporting freight - represent a further step away from its troubles three years ago, when overexpansion resulted in a glut.
Among initiatives to turn around the business, Brambles axed 400 jobs in Europe in a move that saved £10 million a year.
Based in Australia but with a dual-listing on the London Stock Exchange, the company employs about 28,000 people in 50 countries.
It also has a document and information management business - Recall - which grew sales by six per cent and achieved operating profits of £47 million, an improvement of nine per cent on a year earlier. Across the group, bottom-line profits were £347 million, compared with £224 million a year earlier.