Half year profits up at Premier

Premier Foods delighted the market by more than doubling half-year profits to 1 July 2006, which rose from £12.5m to £27.9m.

Sales were up 18% at £431m and branded sales (accounting for 61% of grocery product sales against 54% last year) did well with most products seeing price increases.There was a robust performance from sales of Quorn, the meat-free range, which rose 10% - Premier has been pushing the brand to 'health food' eaters rather than just depending on vegetarian customers. The company is also currently completing the £460m purchase of Campbells UK.

Numis Securities forecasts full-year pre-tax profits of £88.5m.

Also benefiting from the healthy eating trend is Marks & Spencer where sales of its Eat Well food range should account for 40% of total food sales by early 2007.

Morrison sales boosts

Wm Morrison pleased the market after announcing sales for the last six months are up 4.6%. Profit margins are increasing as customers buy more own-label products and fresh food.

Suppliers are boosting

Morrisons by offering discounts as a reward for higher sales volumes. The hot weather in July, along with the World Cup, also helped boost sales. MD Bob Stott reckons there is clear evidence that the recovery will continue.


Greggs, the sandwich and sausage roll chain, is slicing away 14

Bakers Oven stores in Scotland and the north of England due to poor performance.

Pre-tax profits for Greggs for the 24 weeks to mid-June rattled down 20% to £12.5m. Sales rose by 3% to £243m as a result of more stores being opened. Greggs was hit by soaring energy costs (estimated at £13m for the full year - up 63%) which also clipped consumer spending while competition intensified. The target of establishing 1,700 shops in Britain's high streets by 2010 has been abandoned.

Greggs has also joined the healthy eating bandwagon by selling its Healthier Options range. Numis Securities expects full-year pre-tax profits to hit £43m against £44m in