Northern Foods blamed a combination of its limited 11% market share and annual 1% market growth for a poor performance in the biscuits category last week.

Profit in its bakery business fell from £23.1m to £17m on sales down 5.1% to £197.3m in the 12 months to 31 March. However, it insisted that after the recent dip, it had stabilised the business and could create value through focusing on product innovation and selected investment.

Recent streamlining, including the sale of the loss-making cakes business, had enabled management to focus on stabilising the performance of its core biscuits business, including Fox’s, and to explore opportunities to grow the niche puddings business, it said.