Return on sales has continued to improve to 19.0% (H1 2017: 17.8%). We have once again recovered the impact of cost inflation through price increases and continued to focus on cost discipline and improving operational efficiencies. At the same time, we are investing to ensure that we can continue to support future growth effectively. The Group's headline operating profit grew 14% to £70.1m (13% growth in statutory operating profit to £68.2m).

The Group's good profit improvement, coupled with a headline tax rate of 24.5% (H1 2017: 25.5%), increased basic headline earnings per share to 27.3p (H1 2017: 23.6p). Basic earnings per share increased to 26.6p from 22.9p.