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Northern Foods reports modest profit rise while it plans job cuts

FOOD manufacturer Northern Foods said it was on track to meet market expectations for the full-year and will invest &pound;26.5m in its Fox&rsquo;s biscuits brand over the next 18 months.<br /><br />The group, which makes Goodfella&rsquo;s pizza and is Britain&rsquo;s biggest maker of Christmas puddings, reported a pre-tax profit of &pound;12.9m for the six months to 26 September, modestly up from &pound;12.7m the year before.<br /><br />Chief executive Stefan Barden said: &ldquo;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.&rdquo;<br /><br />Northern Foods also announced plans to axe around 300 jobs due to the introduction of new automated technology at its Fox&rsquo;s Biscuits plants. <br /><br />The robotic machinery will cost the group &pound;26.5m but the group said the&nbsp; investment will generate operating efficiencies and improve margins.<br /><br />Last year Northern Foods set out a &pound;50m high-tech facility, which would have led to the closure of one of the two sites and the loss of up to 1,000 jobs &ndash; but it stalled plans because of rising costs due to the weak pound.<br />