Mr Ki­pling owner’s sales ex­ceed­ingly good news for share­hold­ers

Belfast Telegraph - - BUSINESS - BY RAVENDER SEMBHY

MR Ki­pling cakes firm Premier Foods cooked up its strong­est an­nual per­for­mance for five years, with its Batch­e­lors brand help­ing drive sales.

Rev­enue rose 3.6% to £819.2m in the 52 weeks to March 31, while pre-tax profit rock­eted 74.2% to £20.9m.

Batch­e­lors is now Premier’s top per­form­ing brand, with rev­enue up 11% in the year.

Boss Gavin Darby again played down spec­u­la­tion over any plans to sell the Cup a Soup brand fol­low­ing spec­u­la­tion that it was be­ing read­ied for a £200m sale to its big­gest share­holder — Ja­pan’s Nissin.

Batch­e­lors has been turned around from de­cline three years ago to dou­ble-digit growth fol­low­ing the launch of new prod­ucts, such as Batch­e­lors Su­per Noo­dles, which sold over 13 mil­lion pots.

The chief ex­ec­u­tive added that the solid re­sults showed “wary con­sumers” had shifted their spend­ing from non-food to food.

“His­tory shows that when con­sumers are wary, and they have lots of rea­sons to be wary, they eat out less of­ten and eat at home more,” Mr Darby said.

“There is also less dis­cre­tionary spend­ing on things like mo­bile phones and TVs.”

The high street has been hammered by soar­ing costs, ris­ing in­fla­tion and plum­met­ing con­sumer con­fi­dence.

It has re­sulted in hun­dreds of store closures at the likes of Prezzo, By­ron and Jamie’s Ital­ian.

But Mr Darby be­lieves that pres­sure on con­sumers will ease this year.

“In­fla­tion and wages are about to cross in a pos­i­tive way,” he added.

Premier Foods — which is be­hind Am­brosia cus­tard and Bisto gravy — was also boosted by sales at its in­ter­na­tional arm, which in­creased 25%.

Australia was the stand out per­former, with Mr Darby sig­nalling that Premier will launch Cad­bury and Mr Ki­pling prod­ucts in new mar­kets such as South Africa.

Shares were up over 2% in morn­ing trad­ing yes­ter­day.

Premier Foods owns Mr Ki­pling cakes

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