Investment brokerage Panmure Gordon has warned that Uniq could lose supply contracts over concerns about the chilled convenience food group's financial stability, causing the company's share price to dip.

In an investor note issued yesterday (22 October) Panmure said that second-half profits could be dented if Uniq were forced to accept worse terms in contracts with retailers, or lose contracts altogether. Moreover, analyst Andrew Saunders forecast that the company would remain loss making until 2010.

"Our worry is that the increasingly fragile financial health of Uniq makes it possible retailers may have to think carefully about securing long-term supply agreements with alternative suppliers," Saunders said.

Uniq, he wrote, is facing "an increasingly desperate and fraught situation".

The investor note also estimated that the company could face a GBP200m (US$322.8m) pension deficit.

When contacted by just-food, a spokesperson for Uniq declined to comment on the note, stating that it is the company's policy not to comment on its relations with customers.

However, the spokesperson said Uniq was "quite aware" of the pension liability. "When Uniq sold its French and Belgian operations it ring-fenced funds to repay the [historical] pension deficit…. Any problems now are related to the wider economic situation."

Shares in the food group dipped from an open of 38 pence yesterday - before the note was issued - to 32.25 pence at 2.20pm (BST) today.