Underlying sales at Northern Foods slowed to 2.8% in the third quarter to 30 December 2006, largely due to the annualisation of new Pizza and Ready Meals businesses secured in September 2005. Year to date underlying continuing revenue has grown by 3.2%.
The continuing chilled business delivered further steady growth, with underlying sales up 5.6% in the third quarter and 8% year to date. However, frozen business sales fell by 0.3% in the third quarter, with year to date growth of 2.7%.
Pizza sales growth slowed with the annualisation of the September 2005 launch of the Goodfells' Solo range and frozen pastry sales lagged behind the prior year.
In the continuing businesses third quarter margins improved on the previous year. Prices rose by 0.3% The Group warned that continuing increases in input costs will need to be recovered going forward.
Chief executive Pat O'Driscoll said: "Christmas operational delivery was robust. Continued sales growth in our retained business is supporting the anticipated delivery of stronger performance. We have seen the successful completion of our disposal programme, achieving our targeted value within or planned time-scales, and we can now focus on growing value in our core business."