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Saturday 15 December 2018

Record demand for mince pies boosts Premier Foods festive sales

The firm reported a 4% rise in sales over its third quarter to December 30, helping overall sales rise 2.6% so far in its year to date.

Premier Foods said a record 220 million mince pies sold last year helped sales rise over its festive quarter (PA)
Premier Foods said a record 220 million mince pies sold last year helped sales rise over its festive quarter (PA)

By Holly Williams, Press Association Deputy City Editor

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% rise in sales over its third quarter to December 30, helping overall sales rise 2.6% 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 £200 million 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% over its third quarter.

However, branded sweet treats saw a tougher quarter, with sales down 7.3%, 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”.

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Boss Gavin Darby praised Premier's tie-up with Nissin after playing down plans to sell Batchelors soup (Premier Foods/PA)

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

Shares rose 5% 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 £5 million 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 £537 million 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% 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% 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.

Press Association

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