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Hovis market share boost lifts Premier Food profits

PREMIER Foods yesterday met forecasts with a six per cent rise in first-half profits, helped by market share gains for its Hovis bread and a growing trend among recession-hit Britons to eat at home.<br /><br />Premier, which also makes Mr Kipling cakes and Bisto gravy, said operating profit from continuing business before one-off items and goodwill was &pound;123m in the six months to 27 June.<br /><br />Promotions were up about 10 percent year-on-year, in line with rivals, as food makers battle to attract custom and chief executive Robert Schofield said trading conditions were likely to remain competitive<br /><br />Schofield said: &ldquo;People talk about green shoots (of economic recovery). I am not quite so sure. I can see the second half is going to be a pretty tough trading environment.&rdquo;<br /><br />Including one-off items and interest payments on its debts, Premier made a first-half net loss of &pound;35.9m.