Northern Foods is pressing ahead with technology-driven automation, despite falling sales and predictions of challenging trading ahead.
The food manufacturer, which supplies own-brand products to retailers Aldi and Marks & Spencer as well as British Airways, said comparable sales dropped by 1.6% in the quarter to 3 July compared with last year.
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But the firm hopes continued investment in its technology and brands will drive future earnings growth. A major investment in new automated technology in the company's Fox's Biscuits division is "progressing well" and is expected to be completed early in the 2011/12 financial year.
"We are focused on a range of initiatives to enhance the competitive position of the group and to drive growth, with increased investment in brands, talent and technology in the first half year," said chief executive Stefan Barden. "With a strong financial position, Northern Foods remains well positioned going forward."