Food for thought from Northern after advertising spree

FOX'S biscuits and Goodfella's pizza parent Northern Foods is poised to update on the market current trading after an advertising spending spree.

The Leeds-based group has launched a multi-million pound TV-backed relaunch for its Goodfella's pizza range after losing market share to rival Chicago Town.

The advertising campaign started last month, with new recipes and packaging also designed to boost the brand.

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Northern's wider frozen foods division, which includes Goodfella's, has been under pressure and Northern recently switched the focus on achieving profitable sales growth and pulling out of low margin business areas, such as supermarket own-label pies.

The group's other businesses – including sandwiches and salads, and the Fox's biscuits brand – have performed better, helping offset a 9.3 per cent sales slide in frozen food.

Revenues for the full year rose one per cent across the group, helped by a robust result in the bakery division, which reported sales up three per cent.

Under chief executive Stefan Barden, the group has been overhauled in recent years, ditching unprofitable contracts. Consensus forecasts are for annual operating profits to rise thee per cent to 54.3m when the company reports results tomorrow .

The City will also be looking for early feedback on Northern's new contract to supply BA with food on its short haul routes from Heathrow. The contract started on a phased basis in March, with Northern taking over the full supply from Gate Gourmet in June.

B&Q parent Kingfisher will also update the market and reveal how DIY sales fared over Easter and amid the warmer weather when it reports

first quarter trading on Thursday.

The group recently revealed the benefits of the consumer trend to "improve not move", with profits up 50 per cent to 547m in the year to January 30.

Its UK arm, which also includes Screwfix, saw an even better performance as profits soared 64.5 per cent thanks to an impressive performance from B&Q. But the results were overshadowed by Kingfisher's outlook comments, with the group saying it remained cautious on the outlook for consumer demand across Europe.

Budget carrier Ryanair also reports annual figures tomorrow and despite issues such as oil prices, recession pressures and most recently volcanic ash clouds looks set to emerge a winner, recently announcing that profits would be greater than expected thanks to a rush of bookings at higher prices.