Canadian company Maple Leaf Foods said last week that its UK bakery acquisitions contributed to a 7% rise in sales in its bakery group in the fourth quarter of 2006.

The UK bakery business, best known for the New York Bagel Co brand, saw excellent performance, it said, benefiting from strong bagel sales and the first month’s earnings from its French Croissant Company acquisition.

Maple Leaf Foods said it plans to develop its fresh bakery business to increase its earnings and expects continued market growth in the UK. It also predicted recovery of its US frozen business, which has suffered due to factors including distribution and warehousing costs.

Earnings across the bakery group were helped by price increases to offset flour and other cost increases, it said.

Overall bakery group sales were $355m in the fourth quarter to 31 December, 2006, up from $309m in the same quarter in 2005. Total sales of $1.3bn were achieved in the full year of 2006.

Operating earnings were $100.9m in 2006 and $23.3m in the fourth quarter of the year.

Maple Leaf’s UK MD Peter Maycock told British Baker: "Maple Leaf’s UK sales in the fourth quarter were led by growth in its New York Bagels brand. The company is excited by its acquisitions of the French Croissant Co and Avance and expects to maintain growth."