January 17, 2020 / 7:19 AM / a month ago

Mr. Kipling demand pushes Premier Foods sales in key Christmas period

(Reuters) - Bisto gravy and OXO cube maker Premier Foods (PFD.L) said on Friday higher demand for its mini Mr. Kipling mince pies coupled with a TV advertising push, helped sales grow 2.6% during the key Christmas period.

FILE PHOTO: A Mr Kipling Cherry Bakewell is seen in this illustration taken March 30, 2016. REUTERS/Phil Noble/Illustration

Premier Foods, which will be launching a fresh range of mince pies, cherry bakewells and fruit pies packaged as Mr Kipling mini cakes, said it doubled its UK marketing investment with more to come in the fourth quarter.

“Mr. Kipling, has again been instrumental to this continuing momentum, with increased sales of 10% supported by TV advertising and new product ranges,” said Chief Executive Alex Whitehouse, who has been credited with turning around Premier Food’s UK business.

The UK-listed company also has operations in Ireland and Australia.

Sales of its sweet treats, which includes Mr. Kipling and Cadbury cake, increased 8%, while grocery sales were up merely 0.3% as good performance at home was offset by poor international sales.

Sales for the three months ended Dec. 28 came in at 262.2 million pounds ($343.09 million), compared with 255.6 million pounds last year.

The UK-based food manufacturer, which said its non-branded sweet treats returned to growth in the quarter, maintained its full-year profit outlook.

International sales, which declined 17% in the third quarter, have prompted the company to revise its approach and focus on building bigger businesses in selected markets. The company did not specify which markets.

Premier Foods said it expects progress in its international business to be deferred to 2020-2021 financial year.

The company, which is nearing conclusion of its strategic review, said it would integrate its Knighton Foods unit, which makes powdered foods and ingredients, into its core UK business.

Reporting by Yadarisa Shabong in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber and Sherry Jacob-Phillips

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