A return to sales growth for its bakery division was one of the highlights for Northern Foods as it reported a 2.6% increase in group revenue for the half-year ended 29 September. Sandwiches and salads also did well, despite slower year-on-year growth due to the unseasonably poor summer weather.

Underlying revenue was 2.8% ahead in bakery, which was said to reflect some stabilisation in biscuit volumes and an increase in own-label sales. A new brand identity is creating a platform for future improvement in Fox’s performance, it said.

A "robust performance" from the Goodfella’s pizza brand failed to prevent a 2.6% revenue decline in the group’s frozen division. A major initiative is under way to extend the Goodfella’s brand into the chilled sector, with the launch this month of the Signatore range.

Chief executive Stefan Barden said the group was well positioned to deal with the challenging trading environment that has seen the price of cereals, dairy, cocoa and fats continue to accelerate.

"We have made good progress in recovering these commodity cost increases," said Barden.