Premier Foods, which manufacturers well known brands Mr Kipling cakes and Bisto gravy, said a tough grocery market and the later timing of Easter had hit sales in its first quarter.

In its interim statement released this morning the company said that total sales in the three months to March 31 fell 6.2% to £186.3m – as it had expected.

Sales of the businesses key grocery brands including Mr Kipling and Bisto include Batchelors and Ambrosia, were down 3.5%.

It also highlighted that sales of support brands slumped 10.4% mainly due to lower Cadbury cake sales as a result of Easter falling in the company’s second quarter this year with non-branded sales falling by 12.9% as the group puts more focus on branded products.

Gavin Darby, Chief Executive Officer of Premier Foods said:“As expected, we had a softer first quarter due to the subdued grocery retail environment, a later Easter and the impact of milder weather. Having announced the Hovis joint venture and a major and transformational new capital structure during the quarter, we can now focus all our energies on delivering our category growth strategy.

“Our expectations for the Full Year are unchanged. While trading conditions are expected to remain challenging for the remainder of the year, we have a strong programme of new product launches and consumer marketing planned for the second half of the year building on our enhanced customer partnerships with retailers and supported by continuing initiatives to reduce costs, complexity and improve efficiency.”

Key Highlights:

  • Transformational capital restructuring completed in the quarter
  • Hovis Limited joint venture to complete shortly
  • Power Brands sales decreased 3.5% as expected and Grocery sales decreased 6.2%
  • Full year expectations unchanged
  • Branded sales mix increased to nearly 90%
  • Business de-complexity, costs and efficiency programme on track