Foodvest owns the Findus brand worldwide and makes products for the Scandinavian and French markets. But for the past three years, the British arm - Findus UK - has been operated under a licence arrangement by a separate company called Findus Ltd. Last week, the owner of Findus Ltd, Geir Frantzen, completed an agreement with Foodvest to return Findus UK to the wider Findus estate.
Findus UK enjoyed strong brand loyalty from British consumers, said Foodvest CEO Per Harkjaer, who added that he foresaw bigger opportunities for the business following the resurgence of frozen food.
Currently, Findus UK had a retail value of £40m, said Harkjaer, but he expected the European manufacturing muscle of Foodvest to help this value "at least triple in two years' time". He told The Grocer the marketing strategy of Findus UK would be overhauled to more effectively highlight the health benefits of its core products, pasta ready meals, as well as its famous Crispy Pancakes.
"Findus has great promise to become a resurgent British brand," said Harkjaer. "We intend to build a stronger presence for Findus in the non-fish frozen sector, to complement our existing UK seafood interests, which include Young's and The Seafood Company."
Harkjaer said Birds Eye's frozen business, which recorded a 5% sales growth to £545m over 2008, was a "big competitor" but believed the category was big enough to accommodate both. "I don't think we will compete too directly as there are many areas we can explore to avoid Birds Eye products," he said.
Findus UK products were previously manufactured at a plant called Newcastle Production, owned by Geir Frantzen's Findus Ltd business. Newcastle Production went into administration in January after cashflow problems and a period of sustained trading losses. Harkjaer said manufacturing would now be handled by third-party co-packers.