Northern Foods has reported a 25.3% in pre-tax profit to £50.1m on sales up 4.8% at £931.9m for the year to 29 March.

The figures had been boosted by eliminating low-margin business and focusing on markets growing at above average rates, the food manufacturer said.

Sales in its chilled business rose 7.8% to £481.5m, with ready meals sales up 10.4%, sandwiches and sales up 5% and chilled pizza up 2%.

Sales in its bakery business rose 3.9% to £205m, while frozen sales rose 0.4% to £245.4m.

The current trading environment remained challenging, said CEO Stefan Barden, with commodity inflation at “unprecedented” levels.

Material costs during the year were almost 5% higher, representing an annualised impact of approximately £40m, but the costs had been successfully recovered.

“We have achieved these improvements through a focus on products with above average rates of sale, delivered through a commitment to quality, service and innovation,” Barden added.

“By eliminating low-margin business and driving efficiency, while progressively re-orientating the group towards markets growing at above average rates, we are well placed to continue to make progress in realising the full potential of the business.”