Profits dip at Premier Foods


Profits dip at Premier Foods
Pre-tax profits fell 29.4 per cent to £3.6 million at Premier Foods for the first half, although the company said its full-year outlook is unchanged.

The firm, which owns several household brands including Branston Pickle and Kipling Cakes, is facing "challenging" trading conditions as consumers trade down to cheaper goods.

In addition, Premier is still integrating RHM, the business it bought last year.

However, the company said it met its profit target for the first six months and made "significant progress" in integrating RHM.

Investment in Hovis, which was acquired as part of RHM, factory closures and price rises will boost profits in the second half, the company said.

Robert Schofield, chief executive of Premier Foods, said: "Our expectations for the year as a whole remain unchanged, with progress weighted towards the second half as the benefit of all these fundamental actions begin to flow through.

"The group will reap the fuller rewards from this strong platform in 2009 and beyond as our focus shifts towards further brand building and innovation."

The acquisition of RHM, as well as Campbell's in 2006, means Premier is now saddled with debt at a time when inflation has soared and consumers are cutting back on their spending.

Although Premier said it has increased its prices to meet the rise in costs, net debt stood at £1.8 billion at the end of June.

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