Sales increase at Bisto and Hovis manufacturer Premier Foods

City A.M. Reporter
PREMIER Foods, Britain’s biggest food manufacturer, said yesterday that first-quarter sales rose slightly and its cost-cutting and restructuring programme was on track.

The maker of Bisto gravy and Hovis bread, which has been working to turn its business around, said the consumer environment would be less challenging than 2011, and it would continue to divest some businesses. Quarterly sales rose one per cent to £427m.

“Our focus for 2012 remains unchanged, to stabilise the business and invest in our recovery,” said chief executive Michael Clarke, who joined Premier Foods from Kraft last September.

Food manufacturers are facing pressure on margins from the rising costs of ingredients and raw materials.

Premier Foods, whose debt had ballooned following the acquisitions of RHM and Campbell Soups’ UK and Irish business in 2006, has been selling assets and cutting costs and jobs. Premier said it would continue to concentrate on eight key brands: Ambrosia, Batchelors, Bisto, Hovis, Loyd Grossman, Mr Kipling, Oxo and Sharwood’s.

The company’s shares, which have nearly tripled since January, fell almost five per cent to 15.75p yesterday.