Croda, the UK chemicals company, said its move to focus on higher-margin oleochemicals had cushioned it against the sharp downturn that has affected most chemical groups in the first half of the year, the BBC reported recently. A £4.5m ($6.5m) gain on the sale of the Croda Herberts paints business saved the company from reporting a fall in interim profits as trading slowed in the second quarter. Croda stated that trading in the second quarter had become more difficult in the US and Europe and that the downturn was most evident in the industrial sector, with consumer demand holding up quite well. The company had previously reported a 10 per cent rise in first-quarter profits . Pre-tax profit for the six months to June 30 was £23m, including exceptional gains of £4.5m, up from £19.2m in the same period a year ago. Excluding exceptional gains profit was down 3.6 per cent. Turnover fell from £186.2m to £163.1m, partly due to disposals. Underlying sales rose 3 per cent to £159m although volumes were flat. The interim dividend was 3.85p, compared with 3.7p in 2000.