Premier Food's Christmas sales boosted by record demand for mince pies

The maker of Mr Kipling cakes and Bisto gravy reports a 4 per cent rise in third-quarter sales

Holly Williams
Tuesday 16 January 2018 13:18 GMT
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Premier said an extra four million mince pies sold in 2017 saw it notch up another record for the festive favourite
Premier said an extra four million mince pies sold in 2017 saw it notch up another record for the festive favourite (Getty)

A record 220 million mince pies sold last year helped Mr Kipling cakes firm Premier Foods cook up a hike in festive sales.

Premier Foods - which is also behind Ambrosia custard and Bisto gravy - reported a 4 per cent rise in sales over its third quarter to December 30, helping overall sales rise 2.6 per cent so far in its year to date.

Its update comes just a day after it played down speculation over plans to sell its Cup a Soup brand Batchelors.

St Albans-based Premier said on Monday that talks had not gone beyond an "exploratory stage" following reports over the weekend that Batchelors was being readied for a £200m sale to its biggest shareholder - Japan's Nissin.

Premier said an extra four million mince pies sold in 2017 saw it notch up another record for the festive favourite, pushing sales of non-branded sweet treats up by 19.6 per cent over its third quarter.

However, branded sweet treats saw a tougher quarter, with sales down 7.3 per cent, as it said a change in marketing tactics contributed to a sales slide for Cadbury and Mr Kipling cake ranges.

It said Cadbury cake sales were also knocked in the UK by some "short-term capacity constraints".

Branded grocery sales rose 3.4 per cent in the quarter and were 13.9 per cent higher for its non-branded groceries thanks to some recent contract wins, including for stuffing.

Shares rose 5 per cent after the update.

Premier praised its partnership with Nissin for helping deliver a fourth quarter in a row of rising sales for Batchelors, with its Super Noodles range delivering more than £5m in sales since launch last year.

Nissin invented instant noodles, first launching them in 1958, before going on to introduce cup noodles in 1971.

Premier has been working with Nissin since 2016, when it rejected a £537m takeover bid from the US company McCormick, choosing instead to form a strategic alliance with the Japanese giant.

Another of Premier's star performers over the festive quarter was dessert food Angel Delight, which saw sales leap 30 per cent higher after the introduction of ready-made pots last year.

Premier said media advertising of gravy brands Bisto and Oxo also helped their sales grow in the quarter.

It added that international sales rose 26 per cent in the quarter, thanks to further progress in Australia, as well as the launch of Mr Kipling and Cadbury cakes in New Zealand and a new customer take-up for Sharwood's in Europe and the US.

Gavin Darby, chief executive of Premier, said: "We delivered another good quarter of growth.

"Our international business produced another excellent quarter and our partnerships with Nissin and Mondelez International continue to deliver strong performances, demonstrating their strategic benefits to us," he added.

PA

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