Belfast Telegraph

Premier Foods eats up best sales in five years

Batchelors is now Premier’s top performing brand.

Mr Kipling cakes firm Premier Foods cooked up its strongest annual performance for five years, with its Batchelors brand helping drive sales.

Revenue rose 3.6% to £819.2 million in the 52 weeks to March 31, while pre-tax profit rocketed 74.2% to £20.9 million.

Batchelors is now Premier’s top performing brand, with revenue up 11% in the year.

Boss Gavin Gavin Darby again played down speculation over any plans to sell the Cup a Soup brand following speculation that it was being readied for a £200 million sale to its biggest shareholder – Japan’s Nissin.

Batchelors has been turned around from decline three years ago to double-digit growth following the launch of new products, such as Batchelors Super Noodles, which sold over 13 million pots.

The chief executive added that the solid results showed “wary consumers” had shifted their spending from non-food to food.

“History shows that when consumers are wary, and they have lots of reasons to be wary, they eat out less often and eat at home more.

“There is also less discretionary spending on things like mobile phones and TVs.”

The high street has been hammered by soaring costs, rising inflation and plummeting consumer confidence.

It has resulted in hundreds of store closures at the likes of Prezzo, Byron and Jamie’s Italian.

But Mr Darby believes that pressure on consumers will ease this year.

“Inflation and wages are about to cross in a positive way,” he said.

Premier Foods – which is behind Ambrosia custard and Bisto gravy – was also boosted by sales at its international arm, which increased 25%.

Australia was the stand out performer, with Mr Darby signalling Premier will launch Cadbury and Mr Kipling products in new markets such as South Africa.

Shares were up over 2% in morning trading.

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