UK food group Uniq has said it is in discussions with a number of interested parties regarding the potential sale of its UK poultry business.

Uniq said the decision to put the business up for sale followed a strategic review as a result of the loss of the Burger King business at the beginning of the financial year and the bird flu outbreaks in Asia, which Uniq said have had a disproportionate impact on its non-integrated poultry business.

Uniq said these operational difficulties have had an impact on the profitability of both the poultry unit and the group as a whole. Whereas the poultry business made an operating profit of £5m (US$9.5m) in the year ended 31 March 2003, it is now expected to make a loss of about £3m in the current financial year on sales of £57m.

However, Uniq said the rest of its businesses are performing in line with market expectations. A significantly improved performance in France has been offset by a weaker than anticipated performance and greater uncertainty in the UK.

In the UK, excluding poultry, sales in the second half are expected to be in line with the year-ago period. Uniq said it continued to see growth in “Food to Go” sales but business lost with Costa in the first half, and with Asda in desserts has not yet been fully recovered in new business.