The company says sales for the first half of the year fell 6.1 per cent to £364.4m due to “challenging market conditions” and its own “more disciplined” approach to promotional activity, which saw it focus on eliminating deep loss-making offers. Trading profit was up 2.1 per cent to £48.1m in part due to Premier Foods’ decision to move its marketing investment to the second half of the year.
Marketing, selling and distribution costs were down in the first half to £54.1m, from £56.6m a year ago.
Despite this, chief executive Gavin Darby says Premier Foods remains “convinced” of the medium and long-term potential of its brands to “deliver profitable growth”. He says consumer marketing investment in the second half will be double that of the first and “materially greater” than a year ago.
Premier Foods is planning a number of new product launches in the second half of the year for brands including Bisto, Oxo, Batchelors, Sharwood’s and Cadbury. There will also be a “major” relaunch of the Mr Kipling cake range in the third quarter that will include new packaging design.
There were rumours earlier this year that Premier Foods planned to drop its near-50-year-old “Exceedingly Good” slogan. However, the company moved to quash the reports, taking out a print ad suggesting it is here to stay.
The Mr Kipling relaunch will be supported by a TV ad campaign, as well as outdoor and social media activity. There will also be strong in-store activity.
Homepride is also set to return to TV screens in its first major campaign for 10 years following its package redesign and new flavour formulations.
Premier Foods says while the consumer environment remains challenging, it expects the marketing investment, as well as new products launches, to help boost sales.