Northern Foods has vowed to invest £26.5m in developing its Fox’s Biscuits brand, as the manufacturer reported that strong performances in chilled and bakery had driven underlying sales growth of 2.9% in the half year to September.

The UK’s biggest producer of ready meals admitted, however, that margins had fallen in that part of its business over the past six months. Total sales for the period were largely flat at £466.9m, compared to a mark of £468.6m last year, while operating profits edged up 2% to £20.5m.

“Our business is stable, balanced, and benefiting from management actions taken to improve our performance,” said chief executive Stefan Barden. “Today we are announcing a significant investment in Fox's Biscuits, which will enhance its profitability and provide competitive advantage.”

The news comes after Northern yesterday said it was postponing the mooted closure of two UK factories, which had been put forward in its restructuring plan dubbed 'Project Golden'.

Barden added: “Market conditions remain competitive but at this stage of the year, our sales and profit expectations for the current financial year remain unchanged, and in line with market expectations."

Read more
Northern to postpone ‘Project Golden’ factory closure (9 November 2009)
Biscuit brands unveil their festive NPD (17 October 2009)