updated 3/24/2006 3:15:14 PM ET 2006-03-24T20:15:14

Campbell Soup Co. on Friday said it is considering selling its businesses in Britain and Ireland, saying they have fallen short of its growth expectations.

The world’s largest soup maker, whose brands also include Pepperidge Farm baked goods and Godiva chocolate, said the businesses have annual sales of about $490 million — or about 20 percent of Campbell’s overseas business.

The British and Irish businesses include brands such as Homepride sauces, OXO dry stocks and Batchelors dry soup and meals.

“Our portfolio in the U.K. and Ireland includes some strong brands, but it is highly fragmented and has not met our company’s growth expectations,” said Douglas R. Conant, president and chief executive, in a statement. “It is time to explore strategic alternatives as we strive to optimize the value of these businesses to our shareowners.”

Spokesman Jerry Buckley said Campbell hopes to decide by the end of its fiscal year on July 31 what to do with the brands. He said possibilities short of selling them all include running them with a European business partner or selling some lines and keeping others.

Campbell said it is still committed to growing its profit in both the international and North American markets. Buckley said Campbell would like to get into the Russian market and expand its fledgling business in China.

The company has hired Goldman Sachs Group as its adviser.

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