Uniq Q4: Desserts -1.7%, food-to-go +8.3%

By Elaine Watson

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Cottage cheese, Tax, Cheese, Uniq

Eaton: Stronger than expected sales in food-to-go
Eaton: Stronger than expected sales in food-to-go
Chilled convenience firm Uniq said Christmas trading was “close to expectations” in the fourth quarter with a weaker performance in desserts (down 1.7%) offset by a strong performance in food-to-go (up 8.3%).

Group sales were up 3.1% in the quarter, while full year sales were up 6.8% to £312m.

Desserts: continued disruption

A successful innovation programme in Uniq’s desserts division over the summer was held back by “continued disruption to core sales”​ caused by price increases to cover rising input costs, lower Cadbury sales due to fewer promotions and the (previously announced) loss of cottage cheese volume, said chief executive Geoff Eaton (pictured).

“We have decided to stop producing cottage cheese in 2011 and concentrate our resources at Evercreech entirely on specialist desserts.”

Underlying desserts sales (excluding cottage cheese) grew by 6% in the quarter and by 5.1% for the year as a whole. Full year sales for the desserts division (including cottage cheese) were £155m, up 1.5%.

Pension deficit

Discussions with the Pension Regulator, the Pension Protection Fund and the Uniq pension scheme​ trustee about a proposed deficit for equity swap to tackle the £436m hole in Uniq’s pension scheme were continuing, Eaton added.

The company’s proposals involve an effective transfer of 90% of the equity in Uniq to the trustee, in exchange for the pension scheme giving up its claim on the company.

Talks were also proceeding with Lloyds Banking Group for the provision of a £25m facility, subject to the successful completion of the deficit for equity swap, said Eaton.

“Our overall performance for 2010 is broadly in line with our expectations, reflecting a stronger than expected performance in Food to Go and continuing losses in Desserts.

“Looking to 2011 we expect to make further progress although rising commodity prices are adding to the pressure of an extremely tough marketplace.”

Related topics: Chilled foods, Fresh produce

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