Potato disaster increases losses at Park Foods

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It has been a bad week for Peter Johnson, millionaire chairman of Everton Football Club. Everton are firmly rooted to the bottom of the Premier League.

Things have got so bad that Mr Johnson will need a police escort to the home game with Tottenham today.

He is also chairman and the major shareholder of Park Foods, the Merseyside marketing group best known for its Christmas hampers, which yesterday announced that its latest venture had gone disastrously wrong.

DJ Spuddles, Park Food's flavoured potato snack, launched last year, has proved to be an embarrassing flop. The product was targeted at the big food retailers but no contracts were signed before production began.

It has also got on the wrong side of the health lobby, which classifies it as a chip rather than a baked potato.

Spuddles has cost pounds 11.7m to date but total sales were a derisory pounds 87,500 in the six months to the end of September.

Park Foods traditionally loses money in the first half of the year but this year losses grew by 19 per cent to pounds 6.2m.

A new version of Spuddles will be launched shortly which can be baked, not fried, but the future of the venture hangs in the balance.

Mr Johnson owns 67 per cent of the group.