UK convenience food group Uniq has said its continuing sales slid 0.6% in the third quarter, but added that its sales performance had improved from the first half, when continuing sales fell 4.8%.

Sales in Southern Europe edged up 0.5% in the 13 weeks to 25 December at constant exchange rates, reflecting improved trading in the chilled foods division and a reduced rate of decline in the frozen foods division helped by successful new product launches.

In Northern Europe, third-quarter sales declined 3.6% at constant exchange rates, an improvement on the 8.4% drop in sales reported in the first half.

In the UK, Uniq said trading in the third quarter was disappointing, with continuing sales edging up 0.6%, compared to a 0.1% decline in the first half. The company said like-for-like sales to its largest customer were significantly below the level it had anticipated.
However, Uniq said it had won significant new desserts business, worth around £20m (US$37.7m), with UK supermarket chain Tesco; therefore its strategy to create the leading UK own-label desserts business is well on track.

The company also said that from April 2005 annual sales from its Spalding site will be impacted by the loss of £12m business with J Sainsbury, following the retailer’s decision to consolidate further its supplier base in the intensely-competitive prepared salads market.