Business

Premier Foods' gravy and pudding sales hit by hot weather

Gravy in a jug with a ladle in it Image copyright yasuhiroamano

The unusually warm weather in September meant fewer of us bought gravy and puddings according to the maker of Bisto and Mr Kipling products.

Premier Foods saw its share price drop 14% after a trading update revealed a decrease in sales.

Investors were not calmed by the company's reassurance that "careful management" of costs would see profits meet expectations this year.

A boost to international sales could not make up for the hit in the UK.

It's not often that we see the UK's hottest annual temperatures in September. But this year, the hottest day of the year so far was recorded in Gravesend, Kent, on 13 September when the thermometer hit 34.4C. It was the warmest September day since 1911.

Image copyright Premier Foods

While we all basked in the sun and enjoyed the prolonged BBQ season, we certainly weren't buying gravy and stocks, or custard and cakes.

Shoppers spent £172.5m on Premier Foods products in the July-to-September period. However, that was actually a 5.4% decline on same period in the previous year. Gravy and stocks sales were down 13% and desserts dropped 9%.

Gavin Darby, chief executive of the company said: "We are disappointed that our grocery business reported materially lower sales in the quarter due to warmer weather; particularly in September.

"However, our Sweet Treats and International businesses continued to demonstrate their strong momentum, delivering against our strategic priorities and growing over 6% and 13% respectively."

The company was the subject of a takeover proposal by US spice and sauce maker McCormick earlier this year. A dispute over the value of the company broke out between the two and the takeover did not happen.

Premier Foods announced a tie-up with Japanese instant noodle maker Nissin Foods instead in an attempt to bolster overseas growth and introduce new products in the UK.

Chairman David Beever announced in September he would step down from the position next year.

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