Mr Kipling maker in £10m Brexit stockpiling plan

Irving Hamilton
November 15, 2018

Gavin Darby has led the Mr Kipling cake company since 2013 but was wounded in July when nearly 41 percent of shareholders backed an attempt to oust him led by activist hedge fund Oasis Management.

The announcement follows the release of the company's half year results.

Premier Foods' board has now started a recruitment process for his successor.

The chief executive of Premier Foods has announced he will step down as the St Albans-headquartered company confirmed it is in discussions with a number of parties regarding the potential sale of dessert brand Ambrosia.

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

"Under his tenure Premier Foods has become a demonstrably more effective operator and it has made commendable progress with brand development", Shore analysts Darren Shirley and Clive Black wrote in a note.

Pretax losses in the six months to 29 September widened to £2.2m from £1.2m in the same period a year earlier.

"As part of this, Premier Foods have a cross-functional team in place which continues to keep the possible implications to our business under review".

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.

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Darby said it was the right time for him to go and denied that it was connected with the shareholder revolt.

Mr Kipling maker Premier Foods has revealed a £10m plan to stockpile ingredients ahead of Brexit amid uncertainty about whether Britain will crash out of the European Union without a deal.

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 statement also saw the group set out how it is planning for Brexit "in the absence of certainty over arrangements for the UK's departure from the EU".

Premier revealed that demand for Ambrosia and some of its other products such as Bisto turned cold during the summer heatwave.

"Potentially this action will cause an adverse movement of up to £10m in working capital".

The company also said it was now in negotiations with third parties regarding a potential disposal of Ambrosia.

"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", he said.

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