LONDON — Like-for-like sales at Northern Foods P.L.C. during the third quarter ended Dec. 26 were flat compared with a year ago, reflecting the company’s planned exit from marginal frozen pastry contracts. For the nine months ended Dec. 26, like-for-like sales were up 1.9%, led by good growth from the company’s chilled and bakery operations.
“Northern Foods has delivered a resilient Christmas trading performance,” said Stefan Barden, chief executive officer. “Market conditions remain competitive, but at this stage of the year, our sales and profit expectations for the current financial year remain unchanged and in line with market expectations. With a strong balance sheet, we are well placed going forward.”
The company’s bakery division had underlying revenue growth of 1.4% in the third quarter, reflecting strong performance in biscuits, which was offset partially by lower volumes in puddings.
“Our Fox’s brand continued its momentum with the re-launch of ‘Rocky,’ supported by an innovative TV, radio and on-line campaign, which attracted 1.4 million new customers to the brand,” Northern Foods said. “Our market leading Christmas pudding manufacturer increased marketing investment behind the Matthew Walker brand, which will support our strong position next Christmas.”
In the chilled division, underlying sales grew 5.4%, driven by strong demand for sandwiches and salads.
Frozen underlying revenue eased 10.5% due to the elimination of low-margin sales, as well as the simplification of the company’s manufacturing footprint and investment in the McDougall’s pie brand.