Mr Kipling owner Premier Foods enjoyed 4.5 million new customers in its last financial year, as Covid-led lockdown restrictions prompted Brits to get creative in the kitchen.
With heavy coronavirus restrictions in place in the last year that at times saw even takeaways banned, the nation began experimenting more in the kitchen with new foods and flavours, according to Premier Foods CEO Alex Whitehouse.
The move came as a big boost to the company, which today announced it would be offering investors a dividend for the first time in 13 years following an “outstanding” performance in the last 12 months.
“We’ve all been spending more time at time, and we’ve been cooking more at home. As a nation we’ve gone beyond our normal repertoire of weekly meals and tried to look for something a bit different,” Whitehouse said.
“When that’s happened many people have chosen to use Premier Foods items to put together new meals or dishes that they’ve been trying, so for example using our Sherwoods reduced fat range to put together a healthier Indian meal, and this experimenting with new dishes has led to 4.5 million new consumers buying our brands.”
The CEO said it looked like home cooking was here to stay, with customers telling the food retailer they wanted to continue to do more cooking in the coming year.
With that said, Whitehouse admitted it was too early to tell what the impact of the easing of coronavirus restrictions, and the ability to eat out again, would be on the business.
Premier Foods’ share price rose 1.86 per cent following publication of the results.
Profit before tax at the business, which also owns brands Bisto and Oxo, was up 23.5 per cent from the last financial year to £115.3m.
Revenue at the group jumped 10.3 per cent to £934.2m, up from £847.1m the year before.
Grocery revenue for the 53-week financial year stood at £702.6m, of which £609.3m was branded revenue and £93.3m non-branded.
Brands Bisto, Oxo, Ambrosia, Sharwood’s Homepride, Paxo and Nissin performed particularly well.
Sweet treat revenue was £244.4m for the year, driven mostly by branded revenue.
Premier Foods remained fully operational throughout the pandemic and following a good year the group has proposed a final dividend of 1 pence per share, reinstated for the first time in 13 years.
Whitehouse described the last year as “outstanding”, adding: “Throughout the year, we continued to drive our branded growth model, launching a series of new product ranges, including many healthy options such as Sharwood’s low sugar stir fry sauces and increasing marketing investment with six of our major brands benefitting from TV advertising.
“This, along with a robust performance from our supply chain, ensured we delivered growth ahead of the market.
“Sales of our brands online more than doubled and our continued focus on this channel led to further market share gains. In overseas markets we are now clearly seeing the benefits of last year’s change in strategy with double digit growth in each quarter and 23 per cent in the full year.”