Premier Foods cuts debt and aims to boost brands

PREMIER Foods, Britain’s largest food producer, posted a 0.6 per cent rise in full-year trading profit and said its debt following two recent disposals would fall to under £1bn.

The maker of Branston Pickle, Bisto gravy and Hovis bread, said yesterday that it made a trading profit of £311m in the year to 31 December.

That compares with analysts’ consensus forecasts of £303m according to analysts, and £309m made in 2009.

The firm, which also makes Mr Kipling cakes, Loyd Grossman sauces and Hartley’s jam, said group sales fell 3.5 per cent to £2.57bn, reflecting lower non branded sales.

Premier Foods’ key priorities are to grow its branded business and reduce its debt. Net debt was down £103m to £1.26bn at the year end and will be under £900m after it offloaded its meat-free and canned grocery divisions. Shares in the company have gone up 20 per cent in the last three months.