Profits at Northern Foods remained flat over the past year, the Fox’s biscuits maker announced today.

Underlying pre-tax profits inched up to £39.2m from £39m for the year to 3 April, while turnover was also relatively static, up from £975.2m to £977m. Net debt fell to £183m from £206.7m.

The food supplier hailed a strong performance in its chilled food division, where it said that “demand for fresh, healthy and convenience food remains strong”. Underlying revenue increased by 6.4%, driven by sandwiches and salads.

Its bakery division saw underlying revenue up 3.1% on last year driven by branded and own-label biscuits. Sales volume of puddings dropped due to strong competition in the market, while frozen also saw revenues drop.

 “Northern Foods has traded solidly in challenging market conditions,” said chief executive Stefan Barden (pictured).

“We expect these conditions to continue, but we remain well positioned for the future. Even during these uncertain economic times we continue to invest in brands, cost efficiency and technology to deliver long-term shareholder value.

Barden said the company had high expectations for the relaunch of its struggling Goodfella’s pizza brand. But he warned that the increased marketing spend on the ‘pizza fairy’ advertising push would be felt on the company’s bottom line.

“During the first half of our financial year, the group will see increased costs from various initiatives including the Goodfella’s pizza marketing campaign,” he said.

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