Tag Archive | "Premier Foods"

Premier Foods Disposing of Sweet Spreads and Jellies Business to Hain Celestial


Premier Foods has agreed to sell its sweet spreads and jellies business, including the Hartley’s, Robertson’s, Frank Cooper, Keiller, Gales and Sun-Pat brands, to The Hain Celestial Group for a cash and share consideration of £200 million. The sale, which is subject to approval by Premier Foods’ shareholders and consent from Premier Foods’ banking syndicate, expected to complete by the end of October 2012. The consideration will be satisfied by £170 million in cash and the issue of shares in Hain Celestial with a value of at least £30 million at completion.

This sale represents the third divestiture Premier Foods has announced this year following agreement on its new financing arrangements in March 2012, and continues its strategy of prioritising investment behind its Power Brands and divesting selected, non-core businesses.

The sale includes Hartley’s, Britain’s most popular jam and a category leader in jelly-to-make and ready-to-eat jelly, and a portfolio of marmalade brands in Robertson’s, Frank Cooper, Keiller and the licence for Rose’s marmalade. Also included in the sale are Sun-Pat, the leading brand of peanut butter in the UK, Gales, the UK’s number two brand in honey and significant private label and business-to-business sales. The products are predominantly manufactured at Premier Foods’ Histon factory, near Cambridge, which will also be sold to Hain Celestial.

For the year ended 31 December 2011, sales of the sweet spreads and jellies business were £165.0 million, of which 59% were branded sales. EBITDA3 for the year ended 31 December 2011 was £38.3 million and Trading profit was £36.1 million. The gross assets of the business being sold were £161.0 million as at 30 June 2012.

Michael Clarke, chief executive of Premier Foods, comments: “This divestment is a major step forward in our strategy to simplify the business and focus on our Power Brands. Following completion of this sale, we will have raised around £275 million of the £330 million disposal proceeds that we committed to achieving by June 2014. This will represent a 22% reduction in our net debt since the half year.”

Irwin D Simon, founder, president and chief executive of Hain Celestial, says: “In order for Hain Celestial to become the largest healthy food company in the United Kingdom, we needed to expand into ambient grocery where we have seen health and nutrition gain traction with consumers. The acquisition of the Premier Foods brands furthers our goal to expand in the United Kingdom with the addition of ambient grocery products.”

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Board Appointment at Premier Foods


UK food group Premier Foods has appointed Jennifer Laing as a non executive director with effect from 1 October 2012. Jennifer Laing has over 30 years experience in brand building and communications including 16 years with Saatchi & Saatchi, twice as chairman of theLondonoffice, and culminating in her role as chairman and CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi North America.

Jennifer Laing.

In the early 1990s she led her own advertising agency, Laing Henry, which was subsequently sold to Saatchi & Saatchi. From 2001 to 2007 Jennifer Laing was Associate Dean, External Relations at London Business School. She is currently a non-executive director of (IHG) InterContinental Hotels Group, where she chairs the Corporate Responsibility Committee, and of Hudson Global, a global recruitment company, where she is chairman of the Compensation Committee.

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Stability Returning to Premier Foods


UK food processor Premier Foods has reported that its underlying business sales increased by 1.1% to £757.1 million in the six months to 30 June 2012, an increase of £8.0 million compared to the prior year, and that underlying business trading profit increased by 3.2% to £53.2 million. As Premier Foods is undergoing a period of substantial restructuring and major disposal of assets to reduce debt, the group is focusing on its underlying business performance.

Underlying business excludes the results of completed business disposals as at 30 June 2012, Milling (sales only), and specific material items in 2011 and 2012 including pension credits, commercial adjustments and a non-core, discrete contract loss.

Sales at the Grocery division increased by 2.5% to £504.0 million but fell by 1.7% to £253.1 million at the Bread division.

Grocery divisional contribution to trading profit decreased by £4.4 million to £95.5 million in the first half of the year, owing to an increase in consumer marketing expenditure of £8.0 milion and higher promotional investment. The Bread division contribution declined £8.2 million to £22.5 million due to lower market volumes, increased promotional activity in a competitive environment and higher net costs to serve in the supply chain. The divisional contribution, the measure which the group is now using for reporting divisional performance, strips out all costs previously identified as Group & Corporate costs and other selling, general and administrative costs. The Grocery and Bread divisiional performances were offset by strong progress in the SG&A cost base, as costs reduced by £14.3 million.

“I’m pleased with the progress we are making to stabilise the business, re-focus the portfolio and invest in our future growth. Our strategy of focusing on our Power Brands is starting to gain traction,” comments Michael Clarke, chief executive of Premier Foods. “Power Brand sales were up 2% and sales of Grocery Power Brands increased by a healthy 4.9%, reflecting consistent improvement in market shares. Trading profit increased 3.2%, in line with our expectations.”

Plans to simplify the business and drive further efficiency and effectiveness are proceeding ahead of plan and Premier Foods will now deliver the previously announced £40 million savings by the end of 2012 – a year ahead of schedule. Michael Clarke adds: “As we continue our divestment programme, we plan to take further costs out of the business. We remain cautious given the current economic and trading environment and our full year expectations remain unchanged.”

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Premier Foods Sells Ethnic Flour Business to ABF


Premier Foods has sold its Elephant Atta ethnic flour business to Westmill Foods, a subsidiary of Associated British Foods, for a cash consideration of £34 million. The agreement represents another step in Premier Foods’ strategy to prioritise investment behind its ‘power brands’ and divest selected, non-core businesses.

Elephant Atta is the UK’s leading brand of ethnic flour. The sale includes the Elephant Atta, Elephant Chakki Gold and Fassal brands predominantly manufactured and packed at Premier Foods’ mill in Southampton.

For the year ended 31 December 2011, the Elephant Atta business had reported revenues of £17.8 million and an EBITDA (before selling, general and administrative costs) of £6.4 million. The value of the transaction represents approximately 1.9x revenues. The gross assets of the Elephant Atta business as at 31 December 2011 were £3 million.

Premier Foods and ABF have entered into a co-packing agreement pursuant to which Premier Foods will continue to manufacture the Elephant Atta brands at its Southampton mill. The proceeds of the sale will be used to pay down Premier Foods’ debt.

Michael Clarke, chief executive of Premier Foods, comments: “We are continuing to deliver on our growth strategies, growing our ‘power brands’, divesting selected, non-core businesses and reducing costs on track with our plans.”

George Weston, chief executive of Associated British Foods, says: “Elephant Atta is the UK’s leading ethnic flour brand and will complement Westmill’s other leading ethnic brands including Tolly Boy rice, Rajah spices, Lucky Boat noodles and Patak’s pastes and sauces.”

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Premier Foods to Dispose of Vinegar and Sour Pickles Business


Premier Foods is selling its vinegar and sour pickles business, including the Sarson’s, Haywards and Dufrais brands, to Japan-based Mizkan, for a cash consideration of £41 million. The sale is expected to complete by the end of July 2012.

The disposal represents a further step in Premier Foods’ strategy to prioritise investment behind its eight ‘power brands’ and divest selected, non-core businesses.

For the year ended 31 December 2011, the vinegar and sour pickles business had reported revenues of £34.0 million and EBITDA of £6.2 million. The gross assets of the business being sold as at 31 December 2011 were £31.7 million. The proceeds of the sale will be used to pay down debt.

The Sarson’s and Haywards brands are the leaders in their respective categories of malt vinegar and pickles in vinegar while Dufrais is the number two brand in speciality vinegar. The brands are predominantly manufactured at the group’s Middleton factory, near Manchester, and all employees at the site are expected to transfer to the buyer.

The transaction includes the production, distribution, sales and marketing of the Sarson’s, Haywards and Dufrais brands, the associated private label business, the Middleton site and the pickled beetroot and piccalilli lines at Premier Foods’ Bury St Edmunds factory.

Premier Foods and Mizkan have entered into a co-packing agreement pursuant to which Premier Foods will continue to manufacture Haywards pickled beetroot and piccalilli for Mizkan at its Bury St Edmunds site for a period of up to 12 months.

Mizkan is one of the leading vinegar manufacturers in the world with operations in Japan, the US, the UK and other Asian countries. It has a stable of well-known international brands under the ‘mizkan’ umbrella brand and is a leader in the liquid condiment category.

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Retail Squeeze Intensifies on UK Food and Drink Manufacturers


Within British manufacturing, particular pressure is being felt by companies that supply the embattled UK retail sector. Some of the worst affected companies are food, non-alcoholic beverages and clothing manufacturers, finds new research from Company Watch. Company Watch, the financial health monitoring specialists, analysed the published financial accounts of the largest 681 UK food, non-alcoholic beverage and clothing manufacturers. It found that 173 companies or 25% are currently in its Warning Area, with health ratings of 25 or below out of 100.

The Company Watch research showed that many retail manufacturers in the Warning Area, while having acceptable levels of profitability, had weak balance sheets that lacked the strength necessary to support their trading. This makes these companies particularly vulnerable if their profits dry up in the face of sector pressures for lower prices from their powerful retail customers at the same time that their input costs are rising.

A particular feature of balance sheets of retail manufacturers is the prevalence of intangible assets, usually goodwill from past acquisitions, which have limited appeal to funders such as banks, especially during difficult trading conditions.

Examples of lowly rated companies include Premier Foods, the owner of many famous food brands including Hovis, Mr Kipling and Oxo, which has a Company Watch H-Score of only 14 out of 100 and has been in the Warning Area consistently for the past five years.

Also, Dairy Crest, makers of Cathedral City cheese and the Utterly Butterly and Clover spreads, fell into the Warning Area after its March 2011 results with an H-Score of 20 and was pushed deeper when its interim figures to September 2011 produced a lower H–Score of 16.

Drinks manufacturer Britvic, owners of the Robinsons, Tango and 7Up brands, is another manufacturer which is in the Warning Area with a current H-Score of just 17/100, a financial rating partially driven by the high level of intangible assets which are almost 15 times the company’s net worth.

Nick Hood, head of external affairs at Company Watch, comments: “The accounts we examined are mainly for periods ending during the latter part of 2010 and early 2011, which means that these figures do not yet reflect fully the upward pressure on manufacturers costs from rising energy and commodity prices. Once these feed through, we can expect the financial health of the sector to deteriorate further, with more manufacturing companies falling into our Warning Area and becoming vulnerable to insolvency or restructuring.”

Statistics on all UK companies for the past 14 years show that one in four companies in this ‘red danger zone’ have either gone on to file for insolvency or have undergone a major financial restructuring.

The analysis is based on each company’s last five years published accounts as processed through the Company Watch “H-Score” risk assessment model. The average H-Score across the whole retail manufacturers sample was 52 out of a maximum 100.

Nick Hood continues: “Our survey highlights the problems facing retail suppliers. They, like the retailers themselves, are suffering a knock on effect from a fall in consumer confidence and reduced disposable incomes of shoppers. At a time when like-for-like sales are falling and consumers are demanding ever more value for money through deep discounts, retailers are inevitably making most suppliers share the pain.”

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Profits Plunge at Premier Foods


Premier Foods has reported a 29.3% drop in trading profit for ongoing business to £173.7 million for 2011 on sales down 3.4% to £1.81 billion. The UK food group has been disposing of assets to reduce its debt mountain. The sales of the Meat-free, Canned grocery and Brookes Avana businesses realised total net proceeds of £394 million and helped to cut net debt to £995.1 million at the 2011 year end.

Sales in the group’s Grocery division decreased by 7.4% to £1.10 billion during 2011 and trading profit declined by 19.1% to £170.3 million. Total sales for the Bread division increased 3.4% in 2011 to £711.3 million but trading profit collapsed from £35.3 million in 2010 to £3.4 million. Hovis bread branded market share was broadly flat during the year, while non-branded volumes were lower, partly as a result of a contract loss.

Michael Clarke, chief executive of Premier Foods.

Michael Clarke, chief executive of Premier Foods, comments: “2011 was clearly a challenging year for Premier Foods. Like many others in the industry, we felt the impact of significant commodity inflation and an unprecedented decline in consumer spending. Unfortunately,our price increases were not able to fully recover higher costs and were largely negated by higher promotional spending which affected margins. In addition, as consumers looked for greater value, we were unable to maintain demand for our brands due to reduced marketing investment. Retail customer support for our brands consequently declined in favour of our competitors and own label, a situation that was exacerbated by the effect of customer disputes.”

He continues: “Despite its significant scale, the group has been unable to fully exploit revenue and cost synergies. The business remains complex with insufficient focus and has additionally suffered from a lack of investment behind its brands and a short-term, tactical approach to trading. The need to service significant debt has compounded these challenges.”

Premier Foods has just successfully negotiated a re-financing of the business with banking facilities of £1.4 billion extended to June 2016 and banking covenants re-set to support the new management team’s strategic plan for turning the business around.

Premier Foods’ new growth plan entails concentrating marketing investment behind eight ‘Power Brands’. This investment will double in 2012 with sustainable increases planned in subsequent years. Premier Foods will also focus on building collaborative relationships with key customers to drive mutual growth, while targeting gross 4% year on year supply chain savings and doubling of overhead savings to more than £40 million by 2013.

However, the consumer environment in the UK remains challenging. “Consumers will continue to focus on value and convenience; and competition will again be intense,” Michael Clarke points out. “There is no doubt that we will need to work hard to make our brands stand out. Nevertheless, our performance thus far in 2012 is in line with our expectations. I’m convinced we have the right team to turn this business around and I am very positive about our future.”

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Premier Foods Announces Landmark Re-financing Package


Premier Foods has obtained unanimous consent from its banking syndicate, swap counterparties and pension schemes to the terms of a 4 ½ year re-financing package that will allow the company to execute its new growth strategies. The re-financing package is subject to the formalities of final documents being signed which are expected by the end of March.

Under the terms of the package, banking facilities of £1.2 billion have been extended from December 2013 to June 2016. Covenants have also been re-set to reflect the group’s growth priorities of focusing investment behind eight Power Brands, strengthening its capabilities, reducing costs and divesting selected businesses. The total interest rate swap portfolio, including previously restructured swaps, will be restructured into an additional term loan of approximately £200 million which will have the effect of reducing the group’s interest expense. Additionally, the trustees of the group’s pension schemes have agreed to defer deficit contribution payments until 2014.

Premier Foods expects overall financial results for 2011, both reported and underlying, to be at the lower end of market expectations and that its current focus continues to be to stabilise the business and invest in its recovery and future growth.

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Premier Foods to Close Hovis Bakery


Premier Foods is to close its bakery at Eastleigh in Hampshire with the loss of 82 jobs. The bakery is the smallest of twelve sites in the UK producing Hovis bread.

The decision is part of Premier’s ongoing efforts to improve the utilisation and cost effectiveness of its Hovis supply chain. The bakery at Eastleigh is due to cease production no later than mid-June. However, the Hovis distribution centre also based at Eastleigh, which employs 90 staff, will not be affected by the closure.

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Premier Foods Launches £50 Million Marketing Push Behind Power Brands


Premier Foods has commenced a concerted programme of TV advertising as part of its strategy to double marketing spend to more than £50 million in 2012 to help restore growth. Investment is being prioritised behind the company’s eight Power Brands of Ambrosia, Batchelors, Bisto, Hovis, Loyd Grossman, Mr Kipling, Oxo and Sharwood’s with TV spots for Sharwood’s, Loyd Grossman and Hovis leading the campaign over the next two weeks. Further advertising for Mr Kipling, Bisto, Oxo and Ambrosia will be on in the next few months representing the largest concentrated period of TV advertising the company has ever launched.

The new TV advertising is designed to build on the strengths and heritage of the brands while reinforcing their relevance for today’s consumers. In addition, each ad will carry a Premier Foods signature underlining the company’s commitment to invest in its portfolio of brands and to being the Best in British Food.

“The awareness and popularity of our Power Brands remain strong but it’s clear that we haven’t invested enough in marketing compared with our competitors,” explains Michael Clarke, chief executive of Premier Foods. “I’m committed to changing that. The new TV ads are just the start of things to come.”

Hovis will be on air from 10 February until the end of March.

Sharwood’s ‘Great British Curry’ is the first campaign to air, from Thursday 2 February through until the end of April. The ad will show the Sharwood’s chefs travelling the length and breadth of Britain, discovering what makes a great British curry by visiting local curry houses and then creating the best curries so that families can enjoy them at home. The ad is part of a wider £6 million marketing campaign that will target British curry lovers and build on Sharwood’s expertise in creating local culinary experiences. Sharwood’s is the number one Asian food brand.

Hot on the heels of the Sharwood’s launch, Loyd Grossman will return to TV from 6 February until the end of April. The ad will document Loyd from a toddler to the present day underlining his passion for good food throughout his life. The ad is part of a wider £2 million marketing campaign for Loyd Grossman, which is the UK’s leading premium cooking sauce and the second largest cooking sauce brand.

Hovis will be on air from 10 February until the end of March. The ad sees the return of the much loved ‘Go on Lad’ execution featuring a young boy’s journey through recent history focusing on quintessential British life. The ad is part of a wider £10 million investment to build on its British goodness promoting its uniqueness among major national bread brands, in being made from 100% British wheat and free of artificial preservatives. Hovis is the market leading brown bread brand.

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Premier Foods to Cut 600 Jobs as it Doubles Cost Reduction Target


Premier Foods expects to more than double the original £20 million cost reduction target, set last year, to over £40 million by 2013 by creating a stronger and more efficient business that will help release funds to invest behind driving the group’s recovery and growth plans. To achieve this target, every aspect of the company’s costs is being reviewed and a series of cost saving programmes will be initiated throughout the year that will result in reductions in the workforce, mainly from overhead functions. These reductions are expected to amount to approximately 5% of the company’s current workforce of around 12,000 employees.

Under the direction of a new leadership team, detailed plans have been put in place to focus investment behind growing the group’s eight ‘power brands’ of Hovis, Ambrosia, Mr Kipling, Sharwood’s, Loyd Grossman, Bisto, Oxo and Batchelors. Premier Foods is planning to double marketing spend behind these brands in 2012 and six of the ‘power brands’ will be back on TV with advertising in the first quarter, spearheading a full programme of new product innovation, promotions and marketing throughout the year.

To support the new focus on ‘power brands’, Premier Foods has accelerated the divestiture of non-core businesses, completing the sale of its Brookes Avana chilled food business and announcing the agreement to sell its four Irish grocery brands in recent weeks. Further selected businesses are expected to be divested in 2012 increasing the company’s brands focus and helping to deleverage the business.

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Premier Foods to Make Further Disposals


Premier Foods is reported to be planning to sell its Hartley’s jams and Haywards pickles businesses in order to raise upwards of £200 million and to reduce its debt burden. The UK food group recently disposed of its loss-making Brookes Avana business, comprising RF Brookes chilled foods and Avana Bakeries, to 2 Sisters Food Group for £30 million in cash, and sold four Irish brands – Chivers, Gateaux, McDonnells and the Erin licence – to The Boyne Valley Group for €41.4 million.

The disposals are in line with new chief executive Michael Clarke’s strategy of focusing investment behind eight ‘power brands’ and selling off selected businesses to facilitate deleveraging of the business.

The Hartley’s and Haywards businesses are expected to be sold separately to either trade buyers or private equity firms.

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Premier Foods Completes Disposal of Brookes Avana


Premier Foods has completed the disposal of its loss-making Brookes Avana business, comprising RF Brookes chilled foods and Avana Bakeries, to 2 Sisters Food Group for £30 million in cash. Brookes Avana supplies chilled convenience products, including ready meals, accompaniments, chilled pizza and pies. Avana is one of the UK’s leading suppliers of high quality bakery, cake and dessert products. 

The disposal represents an important step in streamlining Premier’s portfolio and its strategy to focus investment behind eight ‘power brands’ and to dispose of selected businesses further enabling it to deleverage the business. The net sale proceeds (after estimated disposal costs of £1.8 million) will be used by Premier to repay bank borrowings.

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Premier Foods Sells Four Irish Brands For €41 Million


Premier Foods is selling its four Irish brands comprising Chivers, Gateaux, McDonnells and the Erin licence to The Boyne Valley Group for a gross cash consideration of €41.4 million. The disposal represents a further step in Premier’s strategy to focus investment behind its eight ‘power brands’ and follows its recent announcement to sell its chilled food division, Brookes Avana, to the 2 Sisters Food Group.

 

“The sale of these Irish brands will enable us to focus on supporting our power brands in line with our overall strategy. Coming hard on the heels of the announcement of the Brookes Avana sale agreement, this underlines our determination to streamline the business to help restore profitable growth quickly,” explains Michael Clarke, chief executive of Premier Foods.

 

For the 12 months to 31st October 2011, the Irish brands had turnover of Eur26.2 million and EBITDA of Eur9.4 million.

 

John Harkin, chief executive of  The Boyne Valley Group, comments: “We are pleased to be acquiring these strong and well established Irish Brands with a loyal customer base. With additional investment, we believe we can grow these brands further. They fit well within our existing food portfolio which includes olive oil, relishes, home-baking and honey.”

 

In addition, Premier Foods and The Boyne Valley Group have entered into manufacturing agreements within which Premier Foods will continue to manufacture the Irish brands for three years.

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Premier Foods Sells Brookes Avana to 2 Sisters For £30 Million


Premier Foods has agreed to sell its loss-making Brookes Avana business comprising of RF Brookes chilled foods and Avana Bakeries to 2 Sisters Food Group for £30 million in cash. The move represents an important step in streamlining Premier’s portfolio following its announcement in October that it will focus investment behind eight ‘power brands’ and dispose of selected businesses further enabling it to deleverage the business.

 

Employing just over 2,000 people, Brookes Avana operates from three sites atNewport(RF Brookes and Avana Bakeries) and Leicester (RF Brookes). It is intended that all of the employees will transfer with the business following appropriate discussions with them and their representatives.

 

Brookes Avana supplies chilled convenience products, including ready meals, accompaniments, chilled pizza and pies. Avana is one of the UK’s leading suppliers of high quality bakery, cake and dessert products. Brookes Avana reported a trading loss of £0.1 million on a turnover of £203.6 million for the year ended 31 December 2010. Before allocated group and corporate costs, trading profit for the year was £9.4 million. As at 31 December 2010, Brookes Avana had net assets of £104.1 million, gross assets of £147.4 million including intangible assets of £65.2 million.

 

Michael Clarke, chief executive of Premier Foods.

The losses have deepened in the current financial year. For the first half, ended 25 June 2011, Brookes Avana reported a trading loss of £13.3 million. Indeed trading is likely to be similar in the second half to that of the first half.

 

“The sale of Brookes Avana underlines our commitment to focus the business on growing a smaller number of brands,” explains Michael Clarke, chief executive of Premier Foods. “Brookes Avana will have a better opportunity to grow with 2 Sisters Food Group given their focus in the chilled food sector.”

 

The net sale proceeds (after estimated disposal costs of £1.8 million) will be used by Premier to repay bank borrowings. The sale is being made on a cash and debt free basis. The transaction is expected to complete by early 2012;

 

Ranjit Singh, chief executive of 2 Sisters Food Group.

Ranjit Singh, chief executive of 2 Sisters Food Group, says: “We are delighted to reach agreement on the proposed acquisition of Brookes Avana. The business has a strong track record in delivering high quality products for its customers and would provide a growth platform for 2 Sisters and increased product diversity to serve every eating occasion. This is an excellent strategic fit and, following completion, we will focus on delivering growth opportunities and enhancing the performance of the business.”

 

Premier Foods and 2 Sisters have entered into manufacturing agreements in relation to certain products currently produced by the Brookes Avana business.

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New Finance Director at Premier Foods


Michael Clarke, who joined Premier Foods during the summer as chief executive, has completed assembling his new leadership team with the appointment of Mark Moran as executive director and chief financial officer, replacing Jim Smart, who joined the group in 2009. Mark Moran’s most recent appointment was as group finance director of SSL International, a market leader in consumer healthcare, recently acquired by Reckitt Benckiser.

 

Since arriving at Premier Foods, Michael Clarke has made a number of executive appointments and is finalising a new business plan and new financing arrangements. However, the UK’s largest food processor faces major challenges including massive pension responsibilities and substantial debts.

 

Premier Foods produces a range of branded and retailer branded foods. Its portfolio includes famous British brands such as Ambrosia, Batchelor’s, Bisto, Hovis, Loyd Grossman, Mr Kipling, Oxo and Sharwood’s. The business employs around 13,000 people and operates from over 50 sites across the UK and Ireland.

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Changes to Leadership Team at Premier Foods


UK food group Premier Foods has announced changes to its leadership team to strengthen focus on the company’s renewed growth plan, under new chief executive Michael Clarke. In the new structure, commercial leadership responsibilities will be split between the grocery and newly configured bakery businesses with the creation of two new group executive roles of managing director reporting directly to Michael Clarke. Following the creation of this new structure, the role of chief operating officer will disappear. Consequently, Tim Kelly, executive director and chief operating officer will leave Premier Foods following a short handover.

 

Iwan Williams is taking charge of the group’s £1.1 billion bread, cake, milling and Brookes Avana businesses. Iwan Williams has a wealth of general management and marketing experience gained through previous roles including president of McCormicks Europe, Middle East and Africa and strategic marketing director of Coca- Cola, Asia Pacific. His earlier career included time with SC Johnson Wax and Cadbury Schweppes.

 

Graham Hunter will join the company early in 2012 to lead Premier Foods’ £1.0 billion grocery business.  He joins from 2 Sisters Food Group. This company acquired Northern Foods earlier in the year where Graham Hunter was managing director of a number of the company’s branded businesses, including Fox’s Biscuits and Goodfella’s Pizza. His earlier career included general management and marketing roles with Jacob’s Bakery and Mars.

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Profits Warning From Premier Foods


Michael Clarke, the new chief executive of Premier Foods, has warned that full year trading profit is likely to be below market expectations. Trading in the UK food manufacturing group’s third quarter illustrates that the consumer environment remains challenging. Premier’s grocery division will not meet last year’s profit in the second half as previously expected. The loss of volume and margin pressure in the Hovis bread business is likely to mean that the rate of profit decline year on year will accelerate in the second half. Brookes Avana’s trading is not improving as previously expected and the loss in the second half is likely to be similar to that in the first half.

 

Trading in the fourth quarter, in which Premier Foods traditionally makes half of its annual profit, will continue to be influential in determining the year end outturn. Nevertheless, based on third quarter trading performance, Premier now expects that full year trading profit will be below the range of market expectations, with the extent of the shortfall dependent on the Christmas trading period.

 

“I’ve covered a lot of ground during my first weeks with Premier Foods and am convinced that there are substantial opportunities here but there are also significant challenges that we have to overcome,” Michael Clarke comments: “While the current trading performance continues to be disappointing and significantly behind our expectations, we have already identified a number of steps to build a more profitable business. These include focusing on 8 ‘Power Brands’, strengthening our sales and marketing execution and reducing our cost structure.”

 

The food group is currently in discussions with its banks to revise its banking covenants and put in place refinancing facilities.

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Profits Plummet at Premier Foods


Premier Food, the UK’s largest food producer, has reported a 28.7% drop in trading profit to £67m for the first half ended June 25th 2011. Sales from ongoing business, excluding the canning and meat-free businesses, slipped 0.9% to £974m.

 

Trading profit was affected by four major factors: First, commodity costs increased by 14% year-on-year; equivalent to a £150m increase in costs in a full year. Although Premier Food has successfully repriced its products to reflect this, there was an inevitable time lag before the prices took effect, which led to a one-off cost of £15m in the first quarter.

 

Second, in addition, as a direct result of the group’s successful repricing exercise, one of its major customers delisted a significant number of Premier Foods’ grocery lines. This cost Premier Foods around £10m in the second quarter but the issue has now been fully resolved and the affected lines have been relisted.

 

Third, there was an unprecedented decline year on year in the group’s markets, with both the grocery and bread markets falling by 4%, due to the depressed consumer environment exacerbated by unseasonably warm weather. The consequent decline in volumes reduced profit in both the grocery and Hovis bread businesses.

 

Fourth, Brookes Avana recorded an £11m decline in profit year-on-year in the first half. This includes a £4m charge for restructuring in relation to asset write offs and redundancy costs following the decision from Marks & Spencer to remove a significant pie contract in stages over the next year.

 

Premier Foods has succeeded in cutting its debt mountain below the £1b mark. The proceeds from the disposal of the canning and meat-free businesses will reduce net debt to £972m.

 

Premier Foods is also continuing to reduce costs. Logistics and head office restructuring is expected to yield £20m in annual savings by 2013.

 

“This was a challenging period not only for Premier Foods but also for the food industry as a whole. We faced a combination of reduced consumer spending and significant raw material inflation. We were further hampered by a temporary pricing dispute with one of our major customers which has since been resolved and by underperformance at Brookes Avana,” comments Jim Smart, chief financial officer of Premier Foods. “We were successful in passing on the majority of our higher input costs, completed two significant disposals and reduced our borrowings. We have continued to deliver efficiencies in line with our targets and have now commenced a further cost saving programme.”

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Princes Completes £182 Million Canning Acquisition


Princes Group, which is owned by Mitsubishi Corporation, has completed the £182m acquisition of Premier Foods’ East Anglian canning operations to extend its presence in the UK ambient foods market. The acquisition includes two major UK canning sites at Long Sutton and Wisbech in East Anglia, along with a number of brands including Crosse & Blackwell, Farrow’s and Smedley’s. The sites collectively employ over 1,000 people.

A number of Premier Foods’ brands, including Branston and Batchelors, will remain under Premier Foods’ ownership but are being licensed to Princes on a long-term arrangement for the manufacture of specific products at Long Sutton and Wisbech. These include Branston baked beans and Batchelors canned soups.

The Fray Bentos brand, business and certain manufacturing assets will be sold by Princes following the acquisition as part of undertakings made by the company to the Office of Fair Trading. Until this divestment takes place, the Fray Bentos business will be run on an independent basis from Princes.

The acquisition significantly expands Princes’ portfolio of branded and customer own label products in the canned foods sector. The products produced at Long Sutton and Wisbech are sold to customers in the retail, food service and industrial sectors.

Following completion of the acquisition, Princes will have annual revenues approaching £1.5b, 4,500 employees, 13 food and drink production sites and a portfolio of leading brands. “This acquisition is an excellent strategic fit for our group and will enable us to further grow our business in the UK and continental Europe by offering our customers a broader range of ambient food products and brands,” comments Ken Critchley, managing director of Princes.

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Premier Foods Appoints New Chief Executive


Premier Foods has appointed Mike Clarke, currently president of Kraft Foods Europe, as chief executive with effect from 1st September 2011. Mike Clarke is one of the most senior executives in the European food industry.

In his role at Kraft he was responsible for managing the group’s entire European business, with revenues of $13b, 58 manufacturing sites and 25,000 employees, reporting directly to Kraft’s chairman and chief executive Irene Rosenfeld.

Mike Clarke.

Prior to taking up his role at Kraft Foods Europe, in 2009, Mike Clarke was president of The Coca-Cola Company, Northwest Europe (including the UK) & Nordics and was with the company for 12 years in a number of senior roles.

As previously announced, Robert Schofield, the current chief executive of Premier Foods, is retiring from the company and will now leave the business following a short handover.

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Fray Bentos Put Up For Sale


Premier Foods, the UK’s largest domestic food processor, and Princes, the British food and drink company owned by Mitsubishi, are to dispose of the Fray Bentos brand. The move is being made in order to allay the concerns of the Office of Fair Trading regarding the agreed sale of Premier’s canned business, including the Fray Bentos and Crosse & Blackwell brands, to Princes for £182m.

After an investigation, the OFT considers that the deal would lead to competition concerns in relation to the supply of canned pies in the UK. Premier and Princes are the two major canned pie manufacturers and suppliers to retailers in the UK with significant shares of both branded and own label canned pie production. Princes supplies under its own brand name and Premier supplies under the Fray Bentos brand.

In order to remedy competition concerns, the parties have offered to divest the Fray Bentos brand covering a range of meat based canned goods (including canned pies) and some accompanying manufacturing assets. The OFT considers that the remedy offered is capable of resolving in a clear-cut manner the competition concerns identified.

However, if a suitable buyer is no found, the OFT will refer the deal to the Competition Commission. Premier has stated that it still expects to complete the sale of its canned food business to Princes by the end of July.

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Head of Premier Foods to Retire


Premier Foods has announced that its chief executive, Robert Schofield, intends to retire on the appointment of his successor or no later than 28th April 2012. The board has appointed a committee headed by chairman Ronnie Bell to oversee a comprehensive search for a new chief executive, taking both internal and external candidates into consideration.

Robert Schofield will remain in full control of Britain’s largest food producer until a successor is appointed. He has headed the group for almost ten years.

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Boparan Starts Delisting of Northern Foods


Boparan Holdings has started the process of delisting Northern Foods’ shares from the London Stock Exchange after its £340m offer for the UK convenience food company was declared unconditional in all respects. It is anticipated that cancellation of the listing will take effect on or around May 11th 2011. Northern Foods will then be re-registered as a private limited company.

As Boparan, which incorporates the 2 Sisters poultry group, owns or is in receipt of valid acceptances in respect of more than 75% of the existing issued share capital of Northern Foods, the offer had been declared unconditional as to acceptances on March 23rd. Boparan has since received clearance from the Irish Competition Authority for the acquisition which includes Ireland-based pizza producer Green Isle Foods.

The acquisition of Northern Foods will increase Boparan’s turnover to more than £2b and transform the enlarged group into one of the biggest players within the British convenience foods market. Indeed, the combined Boparan Group/Northern Foods business will rival Premier Foods as the UK’s largest domestic food processor.

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Boparan’s Offer For Northern Foods Declared Unconditional


Boparan Holdings, which incorporates the 2 Sisters poultry group, is nearing completion of its £342 million acquisition of Northern Foods. Having now effectively gained control of 79.5% of Northern Foods, the offer has been declared unconditional.

The deal will create a new powerhouse, with a turnover of more than £2 billion, within the British convenience foods market. Indeed, the combined Boparan Group/Northern Foods business will now rival Premier Foods as the UK’s largest domestic food processor.

Northern Foods will now be delisted from the London Stock Exchange and will become a private company.

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Quorn Foods Created Following £205m Acquisition


Following completion of its £205m acquisition the meat-free business of Premier Foods, Exponent Private Equity has announced the creation of a new international food company, Quorn Foods. Headquartered in Stokesley, North Yorkshire, England, Quorn Foods makes and markets Quorn, the UK’s leading meat alternative brand, and Cauldron, the UK’s number one tofu brand.

The new company aims to create the world’s leading meat-alternative business. Quorn is already sold in ten countries worldwide, including a rapidly growing business in the US.

Under Exponent’s ownership, the business will be led by senior grocery marketers. Kevin Brennan, the former marketing director and general manager at Kellogg who joined Premier Foods last year to head the meat-free division, becomes chief executive of the new business. He will be supported by Clive Sharpe as chairman. Clive Sharpe, former chief executive of UK snacks business Golden Wonder, has considerable experience in running food businesses with private equity backing.

Simon Davidson of Exponent Private Equity comments: “We have invested in Quorn Foods because of the very prominent position of its brands within the UK market and its strong international growth potential. We’re backing the management team’s plans to grow the business in the UK and internationally via investment in advertising and new product development, as well as through capital expenditure and infrastructure improvements.”

Chris Wragg, Quorn Foods marketing director, says: “This renewed investment will further drive growth in the meat-free category. We are already seeing encouraging growth in 2011, with Quorn growing well ahead of the category. This is the result of strong and consistent TV support, and innovation including the extension of the ready meal range in January, with more to follow through Spring.”

Quorn is currently being supported by an exclusively TV campaign of over £4m in the UK. The creative focuses on the health credentials of the brand, showing how a simple change from regular mince to Quorn mince can reduce the fat content of their favourite, everyday meals by up to 75%.

Quorn is well positioned to capitalise upon trends in healthy eating. It is made using the proprietary technology of mycoprotein that uniquely delivers the taste and texture of meat to the increasing number of consumers who have chosen to reduce their meat consumption while looking to retain a normal, healthy diet. Quorn products are also often significantly lower in fat and calories than many meat equivalents and are a good source of protein and fibre.

In 2010 Quorn Foods had a turnover of £128.8m and an operating profit of £16.1m. The company has around 600 employees on three UK manufacturing sites: Stokesley in North Yorkshire, Belasis on Teesside and Methwold in Norfolk.

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Premier Foods in the Red But Debt Level Reduced


Premier Foods, the UK’s largest food producer, has reported a pre-tax operating loss of £98m, against a profit of £42m in 2009, on a continuing basis for 2010 after a £125m goodwill impairment at its Brookes Avana own label bakery and prepared food business. Group turnover dipped by 3.5% to £ 2.57b due to lower non branded sales. Although volume was up 3.1%, the value of branded sales was relatively flat at £1.67b, down 0.3% on 2009.

Group trading profit edged up 0.6% to £311m, as both the grocery division and the Hovis business recorded improved trading profit but trading profit fell by £15m at Brookes Avana. Indeed, the most dramatic effect of last year’s pricing and commodity inflation was reflected in plunge in profitability at Brookes Avana. Premier is currently talking constructively with UK retailer Marks & Spencer to agree new product ranges and revised pricing and supply arrangements which will be able to return the business to profitability in 2011.

The debt mountain was reduced by £103m to £1.26b during the year but the proceeds from the recently agreed disposals of Premier’s canning and meat-free businesses will further cut pro forma net debt below £900m.

Outlook

Robert Schofield, chief executive of Premier Foods.

Promotional activity in its retail markets increased significantly in 2010 but Premier does not expect it to continue to escalate at the same rate in 2011. Commodity inflation has been running at mid single digit percentages, requiring Premier to increase prices for its products. At this level, the UK food group believes that inflation is manageable.

Premier’s focus in 2011 will be to continue to take branded market volume share, while growing its percentage of grocery branded sales from new and improved products as its innovation pipeline matures. It will also continue to drive for efficiencies; and to generate at least £80m of recurring cash flow.

“Our business has proved resilient, with branded volume market share growth, increased margin from procurement and manufacturing efficiency and lower operating expenses. There is more to do in each of these areas and we have aligned the organisational structure behind the strategy of growing our brands. We would expect our focus to enable the group to show progress from our new base after the disposals without a further deterioration in the consumer environment,” comments Robert Schofield, chief executive of Premier Foods.

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Premier Foods to Sell Canned Grocery Operation to Princes For £182m


Premier Foods has agreed to sell its East Anglian canned grocery operations to Princes for £182m. The sale is in line with Premier’s strategy of reducing debt and follows the proposed disposal of its meat-free business.

The canned operations are part of the Premier’s grocery division and have two manufacturing sites in the UK at Long Sutton, in Lincolnshire, and Wisbech, in Cambridgeshire. The business being sold employs approximately 1,600 people and manufactures a wide range of canned foods including baked beans, pasta, vegetables, soup, meat and fruit.

Included in the sale are the Crosse & Blackwell, Farrows, Fray Bentos and Smedley’s brands and certain other minor brands which are used on canned products. Premier has agreed a long-term licence with Princes to enable it to use the Branston brand on baked beans and pasta in cans and the Batchelors brand on vegetables, wet soups and pasta in cans, and a short-term licence to use Hartley’s on canned fruit. The sale excludes Premier’s Ambrosia branded canned desserts operations in Lifton, Devon, which are being retained.

Robert Schofield, chief executive of Premier Foods.

For the year ended 31st December 2010, the disposed business is expected to have revenues of £334.2m, EBITDA of £31.7m and a trading profit of £27.8m. As at 31st December 2010, the gross and net assets being sold were £167.1m. The purchase price represents a multiple of 5.75 times EBITDA.

The sale will reduce Premier’s average debt/EBITDA ratios by around 0.2x, making a further contribution toward reaching the target leverage ratio of below 3.25x.

“We are pleased to have reached an agreement to sell our canned grocery operations. As a predominantly non-branded business, it has not been an area of focus for us. Selling the business simplifies our operations and allows us to concentrate our efforts on our current portfolio of great British brands,” says Robert Schofield, chief executive of Premier Foods.

Combined with the proposed disposal of its meat-free business, Premier will have delivered total gross proceeds of £387m, significantly accelerating the delivery of its financial strategy and easing its debt burden.

“This proposed acquisition is an excellent strategic fit for our group and will enable us to further grow our business in the UK and continental Europe by offering our customers a broader range of ambient food products and brands,” remarks Ken Critchley, managing director of Princes. The transaction is expected to complete in late March 2011.

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More UK Food and Drink Companies Commit to Reduce Environmental Impact


Associated British Foods, Coca-Cola Enterprises, Kraft Foods and Premier Foods are among the major UK food and drink companies to sign up to the second phase of the Courtauld Commitment, launched in 2010.

The Courtauld Commitment is a voluntary agreement run by waste advisory body WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme) and helps businesses to improve their overall performances and reduce their environmental impact.

Signatories to the second phase of the Courtauld Commitment are supporting three sector targets associated with food waste and packaging across the UK grocery retail supply chain.

“Building a sustainable business is not only about protecting the environment. With it comes a leaner, more efficient business which strips out waste and saves money. The voluntary approach allows industry sectors to move as one and deliver change without government intervention,” points out Liz Goodwin, chief executive of WRAP. “Responsibility deals stimulate businesses to come up with their own ways to solve problems, giving them far greater flexibility and avoiding potentially onerous regulations.”

Other companies to join the Courtauld Commitment since July 2010 are: AB InBev UK, Cafedirect, Concha y Toro, Cott Beverages, Findus Group, Kraft Foods UK, Miller Brands (UK), Kimberley Clark UK and P & G UK & Ireland.

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Premier Foods Disposes of Meat-free Business for £205 Million


Premier Foods is selling its meat-free business, which manufactures and sells products under the Quorn and Cauldron brands, to Exponent Private Equity and Intermediate Capital Group for £205m. The business being sold is expected to report sales of £128.8m and EBITDA of £19.3m in the year to 31st December 2010. The price represents a multiple of 10.6 times EBITDA.

The sale is in line with Premier’s financial strategy to reduce debt. The deal will reduce Premier’s average debt/EBITDA ratios by around 0.35x, making a significant contribution toward reaching its target leverage ratio.

“We are pleased to have concluded this sale agreement. It makes a significant contribution to reducing our debt. Having also recently completed the restructuring of our swaps portfolio, this deal represents another step along the road to achieving a capital structure which we believe will be more attractive to investors,” says Robert Schofield, chief executive of Premier Foods. “It will also enable the business to focus further on building our current portfolio of great British brands.”

Premier Foods acquired its meat-free business in 2005 through the acquisitions of Marlow Foods (including Quorn) and Cauldron Foods.

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Campbell Soup Returns to the UK


US-based food group Campbell Soup Company has entered into an agreement with Leeds-based dry food manufacturer, Symington’s, to launch a range of Campbell’s branded dry soups and pasta and rice meals in the UK. Under the terms of the agreement, Symington’s is responsible for product development, production and distribution of the products, while Campbell will retain control of its brand and oversight of all marketing activity. Financial terms were not disclosed.

The products will include instant cup soups, dry simmer soups, dry instant rice and pasta and sauce dishes, and will feature contemporary branding inspired by Campbell’s iconic red and white cans so familiar to British consumers.

Symington’s is one of the UK’s oldest food brands dating back to 1827 and today produces a wide range of dry products under its own brands, under license and for private label customers. During the past three years, it has nearly doubled its turnover and earned category captaincy status with leading retailers in the dry categories in which it competes.

“Campbell’s is a great brand and one that is widely recognised in the UK,” says David Salkeld, chief executive of Symington’s. “It’s a trusted name that is loved by consumers for consistently delivering quality products that are convenient and easy to prepare. We’re thrilled to be joining forces with Campbell to introduce this new range of products”

Campbell sold its UK portfolio of businesses, which included brands such as Oxo, Homepride and Batchelors, to Premier Foods in August 2006. Campbell first entered the UK market in the 1930s when it began importing condensed soup.

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Premier Foods Moves Closer to Meat-free Disposal


Premier Foods has confirmed that it has received bids for its meat-free business, incorporating the Quorn brand, from a number of parties, including multinational food groups and private equity firms. Discussions are proceeding and are at an advanced stage with two potential buyers.

Nestle is reported to be one of the food group’s interested in Premier Foods’ meat-free business, which analysts estimate to be worth between £200m and £250m. Premier Foods, the UK’s largest domestic food processor, has also put its canning business up for sale as it seeks to reduce its debt burden.

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Princes Eyes Premier’s Canning Business


UK-based food and drink group Princes, which is owned by Mitsubishi of Japan, is reported to be one of the potential buyers of Premier Foods’ canning operations in East Anglia, England. Incorporating sites at Wisbech in Cambridgeshire and Long Sutton in Lincolnshire, Premier’s canning business is valued at up to £250m by some analysts.

Loyd Grossman sauces in pouches, canned beans, soups and pasta are produced at Wisbech, while Long Sutton manufactures Fray Bentos pies, baked beans, canned meat and canned vegetables.

Premier, which is the UK’s largest domestic food processor, is anxious to reduce its £1.4b debt burden and has already put its meat-free business, based on the Quorn brand, up for sale. Indeed, the Premier board is open minded about disposals, provided they deliver shareholder value and accelerate the reduction of average net debt/EBITDA.

Operating from ten manufacturing sites, Princes has a turnover of over £1b and has a broad product range including canned fish, meat, fruit and vegetables, sandwich fillings, pasta, sauces, cooking and olive oils and microwavable ready meals. Its core soft drinks products include bottled water, fruit juice, squash and carbonates.

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Premier Foods Approached About Sale of Canning Operations


Premier Foods, the UK’s largest domestic food processor, has confirmed that it has received approaches regarding a possible sale of its East Anglian canning operations. Since its £1.2b acquisition of RHM in February 2007 shortly after its £480m purchase of Campbell Soup’s British and Irish operations, Premier Foods has struggled with its billion-pound debt mountain. It is currently trying to sell its meat-free business, based on the Quorn brand, to reduce debt.

The board of Premier Foods remains open minded about disposals, provided they deliver shareholder value and accelerate the reduction of average net debt/EBITDA. Further announcements will be made as and when appropriate.

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Premier Foods Encounters Worsening UK Consumer Environment


Premier Foods, the UK’s largest domestic food processor, has reported that the British consumer environment has become markedly tougher in the third quarter. Sales of its branded products slipped by 0.5%, despite volume growth of 4.5%, during the quarter and total group sales were down 4.2% owing to a reduction in non-branded sales, which fell by 10.4% in value and by 6.4% in volume.

The period was characterised by declines, in both volume and value, across Premier’s broad range of market categories. According to Premier, this is the first time in many years that it has encountered value decline, which reflects the volume market trend and the promotional activity across all grocery categories.

Despite the worsening category market trends, promotional intensity and commodity cost inflation, Premier still aims to make progress in the full year but the slowdown in the third quarter means this is likely to be more modest. It is also dependent upon Christmas trading, which is by far the group’s busiest sales period, accounting for 30% of the year’s sales in 2009.

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Premier Foods Receives Approaches for Meat Free Business


Premier Foods, the UK’s largest domestic food processor, has received approaches that may or may not lead to a sale of its meat free business, including the Quorn brand. The disposal of the business, which analysts estimate to be worth between £200m and £250m, would help Premier reduce its debt burden following a series of acquisitions culminating in its £1.2b purchase of RHM in 2007.

Premier Foods remains open minded about disposals, provided they deliver shareholder value and accelerate the reduction of average net debt/EBITDA. Potential bidders for the meat free business include Nestle, Unilever, Danone and Campbell Soup Company.

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Premier Foods Increases Branded Sales in First Half


Premier Foods, the UK’s largest domestic food processor, has increased operating profit by £40m to £67m for the six months to 30th June 2010 following the completion of exceptional integration expenditure in 2009. However, trading profit declined 6% to £110m reflecting £11m of additional pension, marketing and restructuring costs.

Although the group’s brands are trading well in tough conditions, its own label sales declined by 12.7%. Total sales were down 4.5% on a pro forma basis to £1.21b for the period with volumes falling 4% and price and mix contributing 0.5%. Branded sales in the half year were up 0.5% on a pro forma basis at £790m and now represent 65.2% of total sales, up from 62.0% on the first half of 2009.

Gross profit margin improved by 60bp reflecting product mix, procurement gains and manufacturing efficiencies. Operating expenses fell 1.6% despite higher pension, marketing and restructuring costs.

Robert Schofield, chief executive of Premier Foods.

Premier Foods has set a target to generate a net £100m of cash per annum to pay down debt and is on track. Net debt was £110m lower at £1.365b than in June 2009 and average debt on a 12 month rolling basis, the group’s preferred indicator, is £44m less than at December 2009.

“These results reflect the actions we are taking in line with our trading strategy. Our principal brands are growing in both volume and market share and our gross margins have risen as we have improved product mix and delivered procurement gains and manufacturing efficiencies. We are controlling costs tightly and have made good progress in strengthening our cash flow and reducing debt,” comments Robert Schofield, chief executive of Premier Foods. “With the foundations of the strategy in place and delivery on track, we are looking forward to the rest of the year with enthusiasm.”

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New Chairman For Premier Foods


Premier Foods, the UK’s largest domestic food processor, has appointed Ronnie Bell, the former president of Kraft Foods Europe, as non-executive chairman with effect from 1st October 2010. Ronnie Bell spent 30 years with Kraft, the world’s second largest food company. During this time he held a number of senior management appointments culminating in his appointment as president of Kraft Foods Europe. In this role he was responsible for all the group’s coffee, chocolate and grocery brands in the region.

Ronnie Bell.

Ronnie Bell is currently non-executive chairman of Milk Link, a leading UK dairy co-operative, and a non-executive director of Ansell, an international healthcare group, and The Edrington Group, the Scotch whisky distiller. Ronnie Bell has been a non-executive director of UK convenience food business Northern Foods since 2005 but has stepped down from this role in order to take up his appointment as chairman of Premier Foods.

Premier Foods has also announced the appointment of Charles Miller Smith as non-executive deputy chairman also with effect from 1st October 2010.

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