Bisto and Sharwood’s owner Premier Foods today said sales were running a fifth higher than a year ago after the lockdown encouraged households to do more cooking.
The St Albans-based company, whose other brands include Mr Kipling, Ambrosia and Loyd Grossman, also benefited from stockpiling of groceries at the start of the pandemic.
Its revenues for the year to March 28 rose 2.8% to £847.1 million, with trading profits up 3.2% to a better-than-expected £132.6 million.
Revenues at the start of the new financial year are currently about 20% higher than the same quarter a year ago, with demand particularly strong in the grocery business that includes the brands Bisto and Batchelors.
CEO Alex Whitehouse said: “One of the most prevalent trends we have seen during the lockdown is that Britain has got cooking again, with particularly high levels of demand for items relating to meal preparation, including cooking sauces, gravy and baking ingredients.”
McDougall’s flour also saw marked increases in demand as more consumers turned to baking at home.
Premier is on track to beat market expectations for the 2020/21 financial year as a whole, despite higher costs from equipping its supply chain for the pandemic. It also cautioned that it remains unclear how consumers’ eating habits may change as lockdown measures ease.
Shares have soared during the Covid-19 crisis, with the stock up more than 200% from its low of 18.5p in mid-March. Confidence has also been boosted by a landmark pensions agreement, which has the potential to significantly reduce future funding costs.
Today’s annual results show that Premier’s biggest brand, Mr Kipling, increased sales by 4% to the highest ever level. The surge comes two years after a major relaunch, with the brand recently benefiting from a TV advertising push and the launch of its new Signature range.
Premier said its UK business had now delivered 11 consecutive quarters of revenue growth.