Uniq, the European convenience foods group, returned to profitability in the UK, according to preliminary company results for 2007. However, the group’s overall pre-tax losses stood at £44.1 million after significant items, including restructuring costs.

Overall group sales for the full year were up by 2.9% to £736.1m.

Uniq said its Northampton operation continued to lead the way in terms of "customer intimacy and innovation". It supplies Marks & Spencer and airline caterers with sandwiches, wraps and other food-to-go items.

The sale of St Hubert, the French spreads business, and the Belgian salads operation, for a total of £288m, allowed the firm to pay off its bank debt.

The firm admitted progress in Northern Europe in the second half of 2007 had been disappointing, with a 2% decline in sales. Chief executive Geoff Eaton said: "Our progress in 2007 was delivered in the face of increasingly harsh economic circumstances, which have continued into 2008."