Cirio Del Monte has reassured UK customers its European business will not be affected after Cirio’s Italian business filed for bankruptcy.

A spokesman said the Northern Europe and International business units have their own direct lines of credit. “We continue to operate normally, we are able to pay our debts and we are solvent.”

He added: “We did not know it would come to this, but we have been keeping our suppliers and customers up to date with developments all along, and they have been very supportive.”

Cirio Del Monte Northern Europe last week arranged a £25m credit facility with finance company Burdale Financial.

The spokesman said: “Northern Europe is a profitable business unit, we will only dip in to the facility if it is required for cashflow.”

Cirio Del Monte marketing director for Northern Europe, Rob Groundes-Peace, explained how it was continuing to invest in key brands.

He said its brand share in canned fruit and juice drinks was increasing year-on-year in the UK.

Brand icon the Man from Del Monte would be back on screens in mid-2004, said Groundes-Peace.

And there will be a television advertising campaign for Fruitini canned fruit in early 2004.

Del Monte’s exotic World Fruits range was also doing well, he said, with an extension due in October.

However, he admitted Cirio’s pasta sauces were finding it hard to compete with brand leader Dolmio.

But the range was slowly building brand share in a very competitive sector and there were no plans to withdraw the products from the UK.