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Northern Food rises 17%; Hazlewood covets Sutherland.

Northern Food Rises 17%; Hazlewood Covets Sutherland

At a time of gloom and some debate about the future of brands in the UK, it is notable that Northern Foods has reported a 17% advance in pre-tax balances in the fiscal year ended March 31, 1991. The outcome was 105.4 million [pounds] compared with 90.2 million [pounds]. Shares responded with a 20% jump to 470p, an all-time high. Turnover rose 8.5% to reach 1.19 billion [pounds].

Almost 40% of Northern Foods' sales go to the group's four largest customers, who are food retailers Marks & Spencer, Tesco, J. Sainsbury and Safeway (Argyll). And the largest operating profit came from the convenience foods division, up 40% to 21.8 million [pounds]. This is the division that produces recipe dishes, sandwiches, filled rolls, specialty cakes, yogurt and dairy desserts.

Any review of the British frozen food market produced today would have to say that the big or coming names are Northern Foods and Albert Fisher, both of which have built substantial business in the private label sector.

Small wonder that Northern's chairman, Christopher Haskins, is reported to have said that he found it "very difficult not to be smug" about his company's results.

Only the chicken side has been hit by falling prices, producing an unsatisfactory return. However, Martin Clark, finance director, said the business was not as negatively affected as others, as it bought-in two thirds of its chickens.

While the big outfits with long histories appear to be getting smaller, the medium-sized companies are growing by acquisition. Hazlewood Foods, for example, has just made an agreed offer of 34.7 million [pounds] for Sutherland, which concentrates in the UK on supplying private label foods to supermarkets. Among other things, Sutherland makes sandwiches, sausages, quiches and ready meals. Regarding the latter category, it's really no wonder Hazlewood was interested!

Salvesen Report

Further signs of a downturn in Europe's traditional frozen food business come from the annual report of Christian Salvesen, the distribution, manufacturing and specialist hire company headquartered in Scotland. An "extraordinary charge" of 13.3 million [pounds] includes a 12.9 million [pounds] write-down of its distribution contract with Langnese-Iglo, Unilever's German frozen food subsidiary, and sister company to Birds Eye.

Salvesen is rationalizing its distribution operations to focus on France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Spain, but the German contract distribution market had developed much more slowly than expected.

PHOTO : Long successful in the catering sector, specialist dessert producer Philpot Foods Limited has taken first prize in the British Frozen Food Federation's (BFFF) 1991 Retail Product of the Year. Its Chocolate Pavlova packed under Sainsbury's own label, won the top honor. The company's managing director, Michael Philpot, is seen receiving the award from Gerry Brown, managing director of Exel Logistics. Assisting is Norman Kinley, BFFA president.
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Title Annotation:Hazlewood Foods
Publication:Quick Frozen Foods International
Date:Oct 1, 1991
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