Premier Foods sells off can division to Princes

PREMIER Foods yesterday said that it sold its canned grocery division –?including the brands Crosse & Blackwell and Fray Bentos – to rival Princes.

The £182m deal is aimed at cutting Premier’s debt and is the second disposal in less than a month after the company sold its Quorn business for £205m.

Premier said it also sold the business because it wanted to concentrate primarily on branded products, such as Mr Kipling cakes and Bisto gravy.

The company yesterday dismissed suggestions it had appointed advisers to help sell its Hovis business.

Premier’s canned grocery division has two manufacturing sites in Lincolnshire and Cambridge, and employs 1,600 people.

The deal cuts Premier’s debt to below £1bn from its peak of £1.7bn in 2008.

The company will report results next week with analysts expecting annual earnings of around £300m.

Premier chief executive Robert Schofield said: “Selling the (canned grocery operations) simplifies our operations and allows us to concentrate our efforts on our current portfolio of great British brands.”

Meanwhile Princes said it was not planning any job cuts as result of the deal.

RAYMOND DUIGNAN

STAMFORD CAPITAL

STAMFORD Partners specialises in the European food and drink and related consumer industries.

It has offices in London and Amsterdam and founder Raymond Duignan was in charge of the Premier Foods deal. The company prides itself on the personal touch and close contacts in the industry.

The Bristol University and Sorbonne educated executive set up the company in 1997. He previously worked for Citibank and before that NatWest Markets. He has worked on deals for the likes of Unilever and Pepsico.