'Comfort eating' boost for Premier
THE cloud-laden early summer has had a silver lining for Branston Pickle-to-Oxo stock cube maker Premier Foods, the group said yesterday. Premier, which last week announced plans to create new jobs at its factory in Bury St Edmunds, said the wet weather during May and June had helped bring sales back on target after the exceptionally warm April affected demand for many of its products.
THE cloud-laden early summer has had a silver lining for Branston Pickle-to-Oxo stock cube maker Premier Foods, the group said yesterday.
Premier, which last week announced plans to create new jobs at its factory in Bury St Edmunds, said the wet weather during May and June had helped bring sales back on target after the exceptionally warm April affected demand for many of its products.
The group, which also makes Bird's Custard, said its performance for the full year would be in line with expectations, with progress also on track towards achieving cost savings of £113 million from its recent acquisitions of Mr Kipling cake firm RHM and the UK arm of Campbell's Soup.
As a result of the two deals, Premier became the UK's largest food supplier - ahead of Mars, Nestle and Northern Foods - and chief executive Robert Schofield said yesterday that the underlying performance of the business remained “steady”.
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The company said revenues would be higher following the two acquisitions, although overall like-for-like sales would be lower after Premier quit a number of low margin own-label contracts.
Premier said sales of Mr Kipling had seen a “particularly strong performance” over the period with good growth from Branston pickle and Loyd Grossman cooking sauces.
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The company has halted the 4% decline in sales seen at Campbell's before last year's £460 million deal, but added that trading profits would be lower than seen last year as the firm ramped up its marketing spend on the brands.
Trading profits at its bread and bakeries division, which makes Hovis, will also be lower due to higher wheat costs and increasing competition from rivals Associated British Foods and Warburtons.
Premier plans to recover the wheat costs through higher bread prices in coming weeks and is set to launch a new advertising campaign to promote the bread later in the year.
The company also confirmed plans to sell off RHM's frozen foods business, which makes frozen pies, ready meals and desserts.
Last week, Premier announced plans to close six factories, with the loss of around 1,000 jobs, after completing a review of manufacturing operations which it launched following the £1.2billion acquisition RHM in March.
Production will be switched to five other existing sites selected for new investment, with around 16 jobs likely to be created at the Bury plans to which production of chutneys, pastes and cooking sauces will be transferred.
This will bring Premier's total employment in the town to nearly 380, with the new products being manufactured alongside brands already produced at the site such as Branston pickle, Loyd Grossman sauces and Haywards pickled onions.
Premier put the net loss of jobs, once expansion at the five investment sites is taken into account, at around 580.
The group operates from more than 60 different sites - most unaffected by the review - and employs a total of around 20,000 people, with its other major brands including Sharwoods, Ambrosia, Hartley's and Quorn.