John Wood Uniq has raised the for sale sign over its UK yogurt operation, including the St Ivel Shape range, and its branded spreads business including Utterly Butterly, St Ivel Gold and Carapelli. Chief executive Bill Ronald said the decision to seek buyers for the two operations was the result of a strategic review after he took control of the business on February 25. He said he wanted the business to focus on a growth market and therefore it would concentrate on the European chilled convenience sector, merging its desserts business with its Uniq Prepared Foods operation. Uniq's yogurt business had lost money because it was "below critical mass". But he added: "There are players in the market for whom Shape is a valuable asset, and we can generate better shareholder value with it in another home." Once the decision to sell the yogurt was taken, logic dictated that the branded spread operation did not fit with the remainder of the business. "It is a successful, mature business with a good number two position in the market and is generating cash. Disposing of it would reinforce our new focus and also reduce debts." He said preliminary discussion has already taken place about the sale of the yogurt business and he hoped both would be sold by the year end. After the demerger of Wincanton from the business and sale of Malton last year, turnover in the year to March 31 was down substantially, but for continuing business it rose from £987.5m to £1,014.6m. Ronald said the parts of the business Uniq would focus on were demonstrating strong growth with turnover up 16% and operating profit up 17%. These businesses had achieved growth even when other parts of the business had struggled, so "this was growth on growth". Notwithstanding the sale of the two businesses, his aim was to keep turnover for the business above £1bn. "Even after the sale, this will be a business of scale with a turnover of £0.5bn in Europe." {{NEWS }}