Leading British manufacturer Premier Foods’ grocery business has gone from strength-to-strength over the Christmas period, as it looks to close a loss-making factory costing 300 jobs.
The company, the maker or famous brands including Mr Kipling, Ambrosia, Custard and Angel Delight, cashed in on festive purchasing despite the cost of living crisis, with sales up 12 per cent compared to eight per cent in the pandemic-hit year before.
Its grocery sector was particularly strong with sales up 17.4 per cent, growing faster than other parts of the business in the third quarter.
Premier Foods, which also makes Homepride cooking sauces, Oxo, Bisto, and Plantastic, reported that branded sales were also up 15.5 per cent on last year, with pricing contributing “a significant proportion of revenue growth in the quarter” while demand was “particularly buoyant running into the key festive period.
Sales of sweet treats down almost one per cent, while Mr Kipling sales continued to be strong, up in the quarter as many bought angel, lemon and chocolate slices for the Christmas table.
While sales were up considerably, it wasn’t all good news. Premier Foods announced its intention to close its Knighton manufacturing site, at the cost of 300 jobs.
The firm said its factory makes “predominantly non-branded powdered beverages, so is not aligned to the Group’s branded growth model strategy and is marginally unprofitable.
Following a review, it will be proposed for closure with non-branded revenue contracts of around.£27m sales “carefully managed for exit”, costing up to £10m.
The company “recognised that this will be an unsettling time for those c.300 colleagues who are potentially affected by these proposals, and they will be fully supported and consulted with throughout the process.”
Alex Whitehouse, chief executive, said the “results illustrate the continuing appeal of our portfolio of market-leading brands in such a challenging environment and demonstrate the strength and resilience of our branded growth model.”
“Across the country, people got cooking again this Christmas.
“Meanwhile, our International business has now reported another quarter of double-digit sales growth, with Sharwood’s growing over 20 per cent following major new listings in Canada.”
Looking ahead, the company outlined that “input cost inflation remains at elevated levels and is being offset through a combination of cost savings and annual price increases.”