Boparan Holdings – the owner of 2 Sisters Food Group, which runs Holland’s Pies and Fox’s Biscuits, saw sales slump by 3.5% to £778.3m in the three months to 31 October.

Like-for-like sales were down by 2.3% to £787.9m, while operating profit fell by 17.7% to £18.1m, the quarterly results posted yesterday [15 December] showed.

The group attributed a big drop in chilled sales – down 5.1% to £148m over the quarter – on the impact of sandwich contracts that were not renewed, although it declared the operational turnaround of the division remained “on track”.

However, like-for-like sales in the branded division rose by 0.2% to £101.3m with operating profits up by more than 100% to £8.6m.

Investments in “quality and marketing at Fox’s Biscuits” had helped deliver a “strong performance in biscuits, despite a competitive environment” with sales “up substantially” over the quarter, the company said.

“We remain committed to new product developments as highlighted by the launch of two new products under the Fox’s brand including new chocolatey range and Fox’s Fingers this quarter,” the report stated.

Pizza had performed well

The group also claimed that, in the frozen category , sales of pizza had performed well, driven by “product quality and innovation”, adding that it had secured a new major frozen pizza contract which would start contributing to the business in Q2 of this financial year.

The regional TV campaign from Holland’s Pies had also widened the brand’s appeal, it said.

“Our focus on costs, efficiency, investment, innovation and deepening customer relationships remain paramount,” Ranjit Singh, 2 Sisters Food Group CEO said. “With the progress we saw in the fourth quarter continuing, we expect to see our hard work bearing fruit as the year progresses.”

Singh insisted successes had been achieved in category reviews and new product development, with notable successes for poultry products, red meat, pizzas, wraps and frozen fish.

“In our branded business, we have shown our commitment to innovation with the roll-out of Goodfella’s sweet and gluten-free pizza in the UK, successful new brand extensions for Fox’s biscuits and a range of Disney branded products,” he added.