UK-based chilled convenience foods group Uniq has said it is confident of a substantial improvement in performance in the half-year to 27 September and a good overall performance for the year.

"The actions that have been taken over the past 18 months to refocus the group, improve margins and generate a higher rate of growth continue to deliver returns above our expectations," the company said in a statement.

Sales from the group's continuing businesses for the first five months of the trading period were 10.7% ahead of the same period last year, or 4.7% before the impact of currency. Cost saving initiatives continued to more than offset margin pressure, Uniq said.

Uniq's sales in Northern Europe over the first five months of the trading period were up 5.0% in local currency, assisted by new business gains in Germany.

In the UK, Uniq said its continuing programme of innovation helped sales grow by 5.6% despite the competitive marketplace and particularly tough conditions in the poultry sector.

The company said that in Southern Europe an excellent sales performance from its French spreads unit had been partly offset by the short-term impact of extremely hot weather on sales in the ready meals sector. As a result, sales for the Southern Europe division were up 2.8%.