'Solid' progress for Premier Foods

Angel Delight

International revenue at the group behind brands such as Bisto, Batchelors, Loyd Grossman, and Mr Kipling, increased by 23pc year-on-year in the six month period, driven by the group's partnerships with Nissin and Mondelez International.

Shares were up 6.1 per cent in early trading.

Pre-tax losses also narrowed to £1.2m from £8.7m.

"Batchelors is now the fastest-growing major brand in our portfolio following the launch this year of convenient pot format products such as Super Noodle pots", said the Premier Foods chief executive, Gavin Darby.

Premier Foods posted a 1.5% revenue growth of £353m ($464m) in the 26 weeks to September 30, with the strongest growth coming from the second quarter, with revenue jumping 6.2% (versus a 3.1% drop in Q1).

The results come despite a "challenging" first quarter for Premier Foods.

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This year, Premier made a determined move towards more convenient packaging for many of its products as consumers opt for foods 'on the go'.

Net debt at the firm was £535.3 million, a £20.7 million improvement on the previous year, the company said. However, during the second quarter, revenue was boosted by the recovery of the group's largest brands.

The worldwide business unit continued to perform "very strongly" and in line with the its medium term expectations, Premier Foods said.

Shore Capital analyst Clive Black said: "Premier Foods, the UK's number four food manufacturer in size by sales, has had a colourful and somewhat varied history as a listed entity, delivering much disappointment over the last decade or so for its shareholders".

"Our strategic partnerships with Nissin and Mondelez International are working very well, together delivering over 40 per cent of our revenue growth in the second quarter". We completed the issue of a new GBP210 million high yield bond in June and our net debt was GBP21 million lower than the same point a year ago; a little ahead of our plans.

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