Cakes rise at Mr Kipling as owner eyes turnaround

The nation’s sweet tooth helped set Mr Kipling-maker Premier Foods on the road to recovery in the first half, with cake sales rising 8%.

The company, which also makes Oxo cubes and Ambrosia custard, performed better than expected in the six months to September 28, according to new chief executive Alex Whitehouse.

Boosted by an advertising push, Nissin instant noodles more than doubled sales on the same period last year to capture 4.8% of the pot snacks market.

Mr Kipling’s growth followed on from a strong financial year ending in March. Compared with this time two years ago, the brand is selling an extra 22% more cakes across the UK.

Brexit fears prompted some customers to start stockpiling products, while good weather in the second quarter of the financial year lifted Ambrosia.

“I’m encouraged by our strong start to the year,” Mr Whitehouse said. “Our biggest brand, Mr Kipling, has continued its momentum from last year, with sales growth of 8%, while sales of our Nissin branded ranges have more than doubled.

“We have launched a number of new product ranges, including our new plant-based brand Plantastic, and our international business returned to growth in the second quarter.”

He added: “With a better first half than planned, we are confident in our expectations for progress in the full year.”

The results give breathing room for the food-maker, which is in the middle of reviewing its business.

Mr Whitehouse announced plans to shake up his top team alongside the results.

He will get rid of the UK managing director and international managing director roles, and bring in a chief marketing officer, chief customer officer and an operations director.

“We see these as useful changes that should increase focus and accountability,” said Martin Deboo, an analyst at Jefferies.

He added: “Growth is both broad-based and strong in the right places. The road to recovery continues to be trod.”