Premier sees potato profit slump

Premier Foods – the manufacturer behind products like Ambrosia custard and Branston Pickle – has posted strong full-year figures and pushed operating profit up 13% to £108m.

The acquisition of three new brands boosted turnover to £790m, but like-for-like sales growth was muted on just 1.6%.

Premier went on a spree last year, picking up Cauldron and Quorn meat-free brands and Bird’s custard in its drive to increase high-value products.

But the potato business has performed badly, with low prices and falling volumes eroding earnings.

Premier reshuffled this business, buying Gedney’s fresh produce business last autumn and closing two pack houses to cut costs.

Division sales slumped from £150m in 2004 to £106m last year, slashing profit by 90% to £500,000.

The company highlighted continuing energy price inflation as a concern.