Fish fingers nourish Iceland

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The Independent Online
GIVING customers free fish fingers with purchases of ice cream helped Iceland Group, the frozen food retailer, to turn a 4 per cent drop in sales into a 2.5 per cent increase, writes Heather Connon.

The Great Iceland Giveaway promotion, launched in May, was aimed at re-establishing Iceland's position in frozen foods. That still accounts for more than half of its business but Malcolm Walker, chairman and chief executive, said: 'Perhaps we have ignored it over the last five years.'

The group's sales for the six months to 2 July were pounds 621.5m, up 11.9 per cent on last year. That was all due to new stores, including the Iceland at Littlewood concessions. Like-for-like sales dropped 1.5 per cent as prices fell by 2 per cent. In the last six weeks of the period, however, sales were increasing by 2.5 per cent and they have been running 1.5 per cent higher in the past three months.

Iceland's profits for the period were pounds 32.1m before tax, up 6.6 per cent, while earnings rose 5.9 per cent to 7.67p. The interim dividend is increased from 1.2p to 1.32p.

The shares rose 20p to 165p.