Mr Kipling is now preparing to stockpile ahead of Brexit

Galtero Lara
Noviembre 15, 2018

The company, which owns brands such as Bisto, Oxo, Mr Kiping and Angel Delight, has been under fire over a number of issues including its failure to lift its share price above the 65p-a-share bid offered by United States giant McCormick in 2016.

Premier Foods is in talks to sell its Ambrosia brand as the group announced that its chief executive, Gavin Darby, is to leave the company in January, months after a spat with activist investors.

Premier is now starting the hunt for his successor.

Chief executive Gavin Darby was backed by shareholders in June after major shareholder Oasis Management Company, based in Hong Kong, revealed its intention to vote against his re-election at an annual general meeting.

Premier Foods has said it intends to stockpile raw materials in the run-up to Brexit as fears grow over gridlock at United Kingdom ports.

Mr Darby's announcement of his imminent departure comes nearly four months after he survived a bid to oust him at the company's annual meeting.

The company's second largest shareholder, activist investor Oasis, has previously described some of Premier's brands as "weak cards".

However, it reported a pre-tax loss of £2.2m, compared to a loss of £1.2m a year ago, and a loss after tax of £700,000, down from a profit of £300,000 in 2017.

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The company said food brands had largely been protected from a wider slowdown in consumer spending.

The company cut net debt back by five per cent to £509.5m, and boosted earnings per share by nearly 14 per cent to 2.9p per share.

Premier said a sale would allow the firm to focus on its growing brands, such as Batchelors, and to accelerate the rate at which it pays down debt.

The firm said this had the potential to cause "an adverse movement of up to £10m in working capital", but it hoped to compensate for that outlay in the next financial year.

The potential sale of Ambrosia is seen as an olive branch, with the division the group's third biggest brand.

The Ambrosia brand - which consists of products such as custard and rice pudding - saw lower revenues in the first half of the year.

Mr Darby said: "The board has determined that it should focus resources on areas of the business which have the best potential for growth through accelerated investment in consumer marketing and high return capital projects".

'Although there is no certainty that any transaction may complete, the board will update shareholders in due course, ' the company said.

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