Profit up at Mr Kipling owner as Brits turn to home cooking during lockdown

Sales soared at Mr Kipling owner Premier Foods after Brits turned to home cooking during lockdown.

The company – which also owns well-known brands including Bisto, Sharwoods and Batchelors – saw pre-tax profit jump by 23.5 per cent to £115.3 million for the 52 weeks to April 3, 2021.

Revenue also rose by more than 10 per cent to £934.2 million from £847.1 million in 2019/20.

The strong financial performance means the company has been able to reinstate shareholder dividend payments for the first time in 13 years.

Premier Foods – which has 16 sites across the UK including in Staffordshire, Tamworth, Leicester, Nottingham and Manchester, – is attributing the sales boost to the fact that consumers were restricted to eating at home due to the closure of all hospitality businesses during the pandemic.

In a statement to the Stock Exchange, it said: “The Group saw a prolonged period of elevated demand for its product ranges, as consumers were restricted to eating all meals at home due to the closure of hospitality outlets for long periods. The supply chain demonstrated its robustness through meeting these volumes and in doing so, kept product availability high.”

It added: “Overall, the Group’s consumer base expanded this year, as a result of more people cooking from home, experimenting with new recipes and expanding their repertoire of meals.”

Premier Foods says that Bisto, Oxo, Ambrosia, Sharwood’s, Homepride, Paxo and Nissin were stand out performers in its Grocery division, while Mr Kipling and Cadbury cake – including Mini Rolls – performed well in the Sweet Treats division.

The company also launched a raft of new products during the year including Sharwood’s 30 per cent less sugar cooking sauce pouches and low-fat naan breads as well as meat-free beef flavoured stock cubes and Bisto Southern-style gravy.

It is now planning further new ranges such as Deliciously Vegan Sharwood’s Indian cooking sauces and 30 per cent less fat Loyd Grossman lasagne sauces.

Premier Foods CEO Alex Whitehouse said: “This has been an outstanding year for the business with very strong financial metrics across the board.

“Throughout the year, we continued to drive our branded growth model, launching a series of new product ranges, including many healthy options such as Sharwood’s low sugar stir fry sauces and increasing marketing investment with six of our major brands benefitting from TV advertising. This, along with a robust performance from our supply chain, ensured we delivered growth ahead of the market.”

Mr Whitehouse added: “We enter this year in a strong position, with the benefit of an expanded consumer base, further TV advertising for our brands and a substantial pipeline of new products planned.

“As we look to the future, with a transformed business in a demonstrably much stronger financial position, we will continue to move forward at pace and with rigour, applying our brand building skills to expand the business.

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“We will do this through entering new categories in the UK, scaling up our overseas businesses and exploring the opportunity for appropriate bolt on acquisitions.

“Finally, and most importantly, I would like to thank our colleagues who have shown incredible resilience and commitment, keeping our operations running, ensuring we were able to keep food supplies flowing to our customers and taking all the necessary actions to keep each other safe.”

Business Live – West Midlands