Birds Eye is set to launch a rival to Young’s Chip Shop range after striking a deal with Ranjit Boparan to manufacture a range of co-branded Harry Ramsden’s products.

The deal will see the return of Ramsden’s products to supermarkets after years of absence. Gaining the contract was a coup for Birds Eye because in the past the Harry Ramsden’s range was made by Young’s.

Birds Eye CEO Martin Glenn said the launch would equip Birds Eye with a range to match Young’s Chip Shop. “One of our competitors has a big brand called Chip Shop. I think this range says ‘Chip Shop’ but in a more modern and understandable way,” he said.

Birds Eye has traditionally relied on its own brand for NPD, although it does produce a Levi Roots Reggae Reggae co-branded product under its Chicken Chargrills range. Co-branding is more often employed by Young’s, with tie-ups including Bombardier, John Smith’s, Kingsmill and, most recently, a Jamie Oliver by Young’s range. In the past it has also produced a range of David Beckham-branded fish products.

Glenn denied a more general strategic shift for Birds Eye, which he said would be putting heavyweight promotional support behind the range. “It’s not good enough to put a name on the pack and hope it gets noticed.”

News of the launch comes as Birds Eye Iglo Group this week unveiled its 2011 results, showing net sales up 1.4%, to £1.3bn [€1.6bn]. EBITDA grew 7%, to £266.5m [€325.8m] and gross margin was up 1.2 percentage points, to 34.4%. “We’ve broken into our running stride, renovating existing products, making them better and launching new products,” said Glenn.

Restructuring its junior debt last year meant Iglo was on target to save about £30m in interest payments this year, and gave Iglo “plenty of firepower for more acquisitions.”

In the UK, Glenn hailed the success of Birds Eye’s recent Rice Fusions launch. “We feel like it’s going to be another Bake To Perfection,” he said.

Glenn would not be drawn on private equity owner Permira’s reported plans to sell Iglo Group (, 26 March). A sale memorandum went out last week.