Global fruit and vegetable distributor Total Produce has reported a 17.7% increase in revenues for the year to the end of December despite what it called a more challenging year.

Revenues – including figures from the purchase of Dole – for the year rose to €5.043 billion from €4.286 billion in 2017, while profits before tax dipped 3.7% to €69.8m from €72.5m.

During the year, Total Produce agreed to buy a 45% stake in Dole Food Company – one of the world's biggest fresh fruit and vegetable companies – for €300m.

Today's results include the group's 45% share of Dole for the last five months of the year when the deal was completed. 

Total Produce said that excluding the results of Dole, it delivered a "good performance" last year with total revenue, EBITDA and adjusted EBITA up  by 1.6%, 5.7% and 5% respectively.

The board has announced a 2.5% increase in its final dividend to 2.5140 cent. If approved, the total dividend for 2018 will amount to 3.4269 cent per share, up 2.5% on the total dividend for 3017.

Carl McCann, the chairman of Total Produce, said that trading in early 2019 has been "satisfactory".

"Total Produce is targeting an increased in the 2019 adjusted fully diluted earnings per share, including Dole, in the mid-to-supper single digit range over the 2018 adjusted earnings per share of 13.50 cent," Mr McCann added.