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Converting equipment firm Bobst has said orders have almost returned to 2008 levels after reducing its pre-tax loss by two thirds in the first half of the year.

The Swiss firm reported sales of CHF560m for the six months to 30 June, up 20% on the same period in 2009. Pre-tax loss fell from CHF81m to CHF27m.

In its trading statement, Bobst said: "During the period, order entries improve significantly compared to 2009 and are close to the level reached during the first half of 2008."

The firm has also implemented cost reductions and measures to adapt production capabilities to the economic environment.

By business sector, Bobst said that its sheet-fed division benefited from an upward trend in corrugated and carton board industries and is expected to gradually improve moving into 2011.

A similar trend was seen in flexible packaging and Bobst said it continued to invest in new web-fed products.

"The progressive improvement of the economic situation, as well as the first effects of the cost reduction programme, will help the group recover in 2010 a profitable situation at underlying operating level," Bobst said.

"The full impact of the cost reduction programme will be effective in 2011."