Northern Foods jumps as warm weather boosts barbecue sales

FOOD manufacturer Northern Foods yesterday reported solid first-quarter trade, boosted by warm weather, and said it was optimistic it could beat full-year profit targets, lifting its shares by 12.2 per cent to 61.7p.<br /><br />Northern Foods, which makes food products and ready meals for retailers as diverse as Marks &amp; Spencer and Aldi as well as its own-branded goods, said underlying sales grew 5.5 per cent in the 13 weeks to June 27.<br /><br />That rise reflected volume growth of 4.2 per cent, price increases and strong sales of barbeque food and salads. Tesco, Britain&rsquo;s biggest retailer, became its largest customer during the quarter. The group recently closed a plant after losing an order to supply Morrison&rsquo;s and said foodmakers would likely shut more sites in coming years as the industry consolidates.