Frozen food fall hits Northern

Northern Foods yesterday posted a 34 per cent fall in first-half underlying pre-tax profit as it was hit by lower demand at its Frozen division, which makes pizzas to pies. The company, which makes own-label products for retailers as diverse as premium food seller Marks & Spencer and discounter Aldi, said trading conditions at its Frozen unit remained tough. For the 26 weeks to 2 October pre-tax profit before restructuring items was £9.6m, compared with £12.9m last year. Revenue fell three per cent to £453m, while like-for-like sales grew 2.7 per cent. Last month, the company said it was changing the structure of its business, by shifting from five business units to two divisions – branded and chilled, to save money as it braced for a possible double-dip recession. Northern Foods shares have lost 32 per cent of their value since the start of the year as the downturn took its toll.