H J Heinz Company today reported net income of $206.5m for its fourth quarter ended April 27, 2005, compared with $196.5m in the same period last year.

Sales for the fourth quarter were $2.448bn, compared with $2.331bn in the year earlier period.

For the year to April 27 net income was $752.7m, compared with $804.3m the year before, on sales of $8.912bn, compared with $8.415bn last year.

The rise in fourth quarter sales and income was driven by strong performances in the North American Consumer Products and US Foodservice segments, the company said. Overall, Heinz's fourth-quarter sales increased 5.0%, reflecting a 1.5% volume improvement and the favourable impact of foreign exchange

"I am pleased to report that we achieved many of our critical objectives in Fiscal 2005 and, most importantly, enhanced the fundamentals of the company by continuing to strengthen our brands, improve our management team and streamline our organization., said chairman, president and CEO William R. Johnson. "We achieved strong results in sales, volume, cash flow, and EPS in Fiscal 2005. We are particularly pleased with our volume and sales momentum, especially in North America and the Pacific, and expect this trend to continue into Fiscal 2006, given the healthy consumption data that we are seeing in our core businesses."

"Sales of our top 15 power brands grew by a robust 7.1% and finished the year even stronger with 8.4% growth in the fourth quarter," he said.

"We have initiated a strategic review of our international portfolio and our global organizational structure," he said. "This strategic review follows the successful transformation of our North American businesses, and we expect, as a result, that Heinz will become a faster-growing, even more focused company. We are going to place our focus and resources on our big brands with number-one and number-two market positions and in four large developing markets."

Heinz has announced the formation of a new office of the chairman to provide a stronger focus on growth and innovation and to better leverage the global power of Heinz. It will comprise the four senior-most executives responsible for operations globally, and the heads of three global corporate functions. All will be based in Pittsburgh. The members, in addition to William R. Johnson, are Jeffrey P. Berger,  executive vice president for global foodservice, Joseph Jimenez, executive vice president for Europe, David C. Moran, senior vice president and president for consumer products, the executive vice president for Asia/Pacific, to be named later, Arthur B. Winkleblack, executive vice president and chief financial officer, Theodore N. Bobby, senior vice president and general counsel and D. Edward I. Smyth, chief administrative officer and senior vice president of corporate and government affairs.

Reporting to the office of the chairman will be a presidents council, comprising the heads of the company's largest business units.