Third quarter sales at Iceland dipped slightly but rallied over Christmas according to Big Food Group as it also announced that Mike Coupe, MD of the high street chain, was to step down.

For the 13 weeks to December 26, like-for-like sales at Iceland rose 1.2% down 0.2%, but were up 1.9% over the five-week Christmas trading period to January 2.

BFG said Mike Coupe had decided his future was outside the group but would remain at Iceland until September whilst a successor is found.

At its cash and carry unit Booker like-for-likes were flat at 1.6% in what BFG described as a “tougher trading environment”. BFG noted that this reflected the “strength of price discounting by the major multiples at seasonal times”.

Woodward foodservice saw like-for-like sales growth of 32.8% up from 19% boosted by a new third ambient grocery distribution centre.

On its approach for convenience store group Londis, BFG boss Bill Grimsey said: “The sale of Londis would present an opportunity for us to serve another group of independent retailers by bringing our scale and expertise to help them.”

Net debt at BFG rose to £238m from £216m.