BRITISH consumers tucking into chocolate for comfort and returning to nostalgic favourites during the recession have boosted sales at confectionery giant Cadbury.<br /><br />Total revenues rose 12 per cent in Britain and Ireland during the first half of 2009 with chocolate revenues jumping 13 per cent, outperforming the rest of the market.<br /><br />Chief executive Todd Stitzer said: “It’s a phenomenon, I can’t remember the last time we’ve seen chocolate revenues grow by this much. The staying at home trend has been identified but the dynamic has really surprised us.”<br /><br />The group yesterday sweetened its profit margins for the year by between 80-100 basis points in constant currency, beating market forecasts.<br /><br />However, falling sales of its gum and candy brands, which include Trident and Liquorice AllSorts, dragged down the overall group performance in the first half of the year, with total sales up just four per cent.<br /><br />The group reported underlying pre-tax profits of £262m, 11 per cent higher than a year earlier. But its pre-tax profit under conventional accounting rules dropped 16 per cent from £134m to £112m due to pension charges, disposals and restructuring costs.<br /><br />Cadbury prices overall were trading at around six per cent higher in the period, due to cocoa commodity prices trading at a record high of £1,800 per tonne. The group yesterday revealed that it had shrunk the size of moulded chocolate bars from 250g to 230g to offset rising costs without increasing prices.<br /><br /><strong>FAST FACTS </strong> CADBURY<br />• Cadbury last September relaunched 1980s favourite Wispa chocolate bar. It has already recorded over 60m sales.<br /><br />• After strong first-half sales, the group raised its dividend payout by eight per cent to 5.7p.