NWF Group expects pre-tax profit for the six months ended 30 November to be greater than the same period in 2011, despite lower than expected performance in its food distribution arm.

In its interim statement, the firm said its Boughey Distribution business performed “slightly behind expectations” as it did not take on as many new customers and receive as much business from existing customers as it expected, which it blamed on a “tough market environment”.

NWF Fuels performed better than it anticipated in the first half of the financial year due to lowering its cost base and reducing its tanker fleet.

Net debt is expected to be “significantly lower” than it was at the end of the same period last year, when it announces its interim results on 29 January 2013.