Unilever to offload Birds Eye as part of frozen food sell-off

LONDON - Unilever has confirmed it is to sell off its Birds Eye frozen foods brand, after unsuccessfully trying to boost its image and sales last year.

The sale of the brand, most famous for its Captain Birds Eye advertising campaigns, is part of a sell-off of almost its entire European frozen foods business.

Unilever's Italian frozen food business including the Findus brand, as well as the ice-cream portfolio, have been spared the axe.

The sell-off of Birds Eye comes as the brand struggled to shed an unhealthy image in recent years, despite a £60m overhaul of its range last year.

Patrick Cescau, Unilever group chief executive, said: "Deciding to put the majority of our European frozen food business up for sale has been a tough call. It has been a successful business for us over many years and we've built some great brands for consumers with memorable advertising.

"However, although we have made great progress in increasing profitability in recent years growth has been harder to come by."

He added that the decision followed a review of the business which started last September and concluded that selling was "the best way for us to create value" for Unilever.

This latest decision does not affect the Bertolli-branded frozen business in the US.

The total turnover of the frozen foods business, which employs around 3,500 people outside of Italy, is €2bn.

This latest announcement comes as Unilever reveals a pre-tax profit rise by 27% to €4.7bn from €3.7bn. 

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