Mince pies and gravy drive Premier Foods festive sales higher

Festive demand for mince pies and Bisto gravy have helped drive Premier Foods to higher sales in the third quarter.

The food manufacturer said sales increased 2.6% for the 13 weeks on the back of 3.6% growth in its UK sales.

It said this was particularly buoyed by leading brand Mr Kipling, which saw sales jump 10% after it sold 201 million mince pies over the festive period.

Total sales in the group’s sweet treats division increased by 8% as a result, as it was bolstered by new product development, such as the launch of mini mince pies for the Christmas period.

The company said it planned to continue this momentum by pushing forward with more new products in 2020, including making more mini Mr Kipling products.

It also said that sales of its Cadbury-branded cakes increased from the same period last year.

Meanwhile, sales from the group’s grocery division increased by 0.3% over the quarter, with the company highlighting growth for its Bisto and Ambrosia brands.

Premier Foods also saw strong growth for its Nissin Soba noodles products, which jumped 70% against the same period last year.

Alex Whitehouse, chief executive at Premier Foods, said: “Our UK business has now delivered 10 consecutive quarters of revenue growth and has consistently outperformed the market.

“Our biggest brand, Mr Kipling, has again been instrumental to this continuing momentum, with increased sales of 10% supported by TV advertising and new product ranges.

“We are making good progress towards our cost savings goals and are on track to deliver £5 million savings over the next two years to further increase investment into the branded growth model.”

Meanwhile, Premier Foods said international sales were “disappointing” over the period, declining by 17%.

Last year, Premier launched a strategic review after significant pressure from activist investors to look at how the business can reduce its debt mountain more quickly.

The company attempted to sell its Ambrosia custard brand but took it off the market after interested parties failed to meet its valuation.

Premier said its strategic review is now “nearing conclusion” but provided no further details.

Shares rose by 2.4% to 44p in early trading on Friday.

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