A family-run Cumbrian food distribution specialist says it is eyeing up further growth after announcing a rise in sales and profits.

Pioneer Foodservice and Pioneer Foodstore, owned by PFD (Carlisle) has posted its annual results.

For the year to April 30, the company reported that its pre-tax profits had risen from from £1.6 million to £1.9m.

Turnover was £46.9 million, up from £41.8m over the previous period.

Pioneer was founded in 1878 and is a sixth-generation family firm.

Its foodservice division supplies products to the catering industry across the region, while its foodstores arm runs three shops in Cumbria, in Carlisle city centre, Harrington, near Workington and its flagship Rosehill Industrial Estate store, which it opened last April.

It also owns a restaurant, with banqueting facilities, alongside its Carlisle head office, and has three distribution centres in the city, Workington and Gateshead.

Its report said despite the catering trade experiencing challenging times, Pioneer Foodservice had shown a strong performance, with sales rising year-on-year by 12 per cent and a "significant" profit.

The restaurant has increased turnover and recorded a 3.5 per cent rise in food and drink sales and banqueting facilities seeing a 14.5 per cent increase in room hire and other income.

It said the retail environment had also been tough, with intense competition between supermarket chains and independent retailers.

It added: "This is true where one of the company's shops is situated in Carlisle town centre, with several empty retail premises to let, parking difficulties for visitors and a reduced footfall on most days."

However, it said, its Rosehill store offers customers a unique shopping experience and "showcases the finest locally sourced products".

The group said: "The company finds itself in a strong position at the year end and will continue to build on this going forward."

It said it would do this by investing in marketing and technology, developing product ranges and refurbishing and expanding premises.