Premier’s £1.2bn takeover of RHM came as a surprise to many investors, but the company has demonstrated an appetite for iconic British brands in the past.Since its stock market flotation two years ago, Premier has acquired Bird’s custard and Angel Delight brands, and the company behind the meat substitute brand Quorn for £172m. In July it also acquired Campbell’s Soup, which includes Oxo, Batchelor soups and Homepride sauces, in a £460m deal.After the RHM deal, Premier’s finance director Paul Thomas said the company was still looking for more UK brands to add to its portfolio and had the financial capacity to pursue further acquisitions.The RHM deal is predicted by industry commentators to put pressure on rivals such as Associated British Foods and Northern Foods.For the year ending 31 December 2005, Premier Foods reported sales of £790m and operating profits of £102m. The company wants to get a larger part of sales from branded products, which offer a higher rate of return, than making goods under supermarkets own-brands.The deal with RHM will leave Premier as the UK’s biggest food producer with combined sales of around £2.6bn per year.RHM has annual sales of over £1.5bn and over 15,000 employees at approximately 50 locations.For the year ended 29 April 2006, RHM reported sales of £1.56bn and profit of £174m. RHM reported gross assets of £1.35bn and net debt of £676m.Investment group Doughty Hanson floated RHM in July 2005 and retained a 33% shareholding in the company. It first sold stock to investors in July 2005 at 275p. RHM was valued at 352.45p per share by Premier in the deal. Despite high wheat and energy costs, RHM announced. In October that its first-half sales rose 2%.Premier has predicted annual synergies of £85m over the next three years. According to press reports, these will come from £50m worth of cost reductions at manufacturing facilities, a further £25m will come from lower purchasing costs and £10m from closing RHM’s head office in Buckinghamshire, which employs 100 people.Premier Foods was represented by Rothschild and Merrill Lynch in the deal. RHM was represented by Credit Suisse and Citigroup.
Finsbury Food Group said this week that it is ready to look at possible acquisitions, as it posted record results for 2007.The group had almost finished intergrating latest acquisition, cake company Lightbody, which it bought in February, chief executive Dave Brooks told British Baker. It would be able to consider any deals which came along, but there was “no urgency”, he stressed.Meanwhile, the company is focusing on making sure its various divisions, which also include Memory Lane Cakes, organic baker Nicholas & Harris and gluten-free speciality business United Central Bakeries (UCB) are properly “mapped together”, Brooks said.Cost pressures on flour and butter were being passed on to customers he added, with price rises expected in mid-October.A new 20,000sq ft bay will be completed at UCB in the next three weeks, which will be used for new opportunities as required. The company is also going “back to basics” and researching what captures a child’s imagination to provide inspiration for its childrens’ cakes ranges, including the Nestlé ranges.Finbury’s main challenge was “curbing its enthusiasm to try and do everything at once”, Brooks added. Sales were up 50% to £109.8m in the year to 30 June, and pre-tax profit up 89% to £4.4m.
Improve has launched an interactive website at www.improveltd.co.ukThe site features the latest updates from the food and drink industry, plus up-to-date Labour Market Intelligence, developments on Qualifications and Learning Frameworks, and useful advice on how to secure a job in food and drink manufacturing.Other interactive features include the ability to debate on key industry issues, gain insight into the thoughts of industry leaders, post comments and sign up for news alerts.Improve has also added a new area – ImproveSkills – which focuses on the key developments of Improve within the skills arena.
Yeast-maker GB Ingredients’ owner Lallemand has pioneered a new yeast, which it says should help bread compete against breakfast cereals.The new yeast, available from January, is a natural source of Vitamin D. This vitamin has recently been hitting the media headlines, with health experts saying that many Britons do not consume enough.Bakers using Lallemand block, cream or instant dried yeast will be able to state on bread packs that the bread ’is a natural source of Vitamin D’. Managing director of Lallemand UK Dr Mike Chell told British Baker: “This is a breakthrough pioneered by Lallemand. It will provide an excellent marketing platform for bread. “The Vitamin D in the yeast is not an additive or enrichment; it is brought about by a natural ultra-violet action on the yeast, making the bread ’a natural source of Vitamin D’.He continued: “Cereal manufacturers make great front-of-pack claims that their cereals are fortified with minerals and vitamins, including Vita-min D. But bread, too, con-tains nutrients.” White and brown flour is fortified with calcium, iron, thiamine and niacin, but this is not actively promoted by the baking industry at present. At the Federation of Bakers Conference earlier this year, Scott Clarke, category director for bakery at Tesco, said: “I would hold up the cereal industry as a potent example for driving consumption. Are we proactive enough in the baking industry? You should talk more about the positives.”The EU recommendation for children and adults is five micrograms or 200 IU per day. The UK recommends 10 micrograms for over-65s.Two slices or 100g of bread made with Vitamin D yeast will provide 15% of the recommen-ded intake.l For a full interview with Lallemand, see page 24.
The Puccino’s outlets bought from administration last month are to sell an expanded range of sandwiches and hot savouries as the company looks to consolidate in 2010.Puccino’s Ltd, which had operated 86 franchised and company-owned cafes and coffee kiosks, went into administration last month with 29 units ceasing trade immediately. The company had also previously closed 14 outlets. The leases for the remaining 43 units, which are all run under franchise, were sold to a newly formed company called Puccino’s Worldwide. The firm’s operations director Tony Brogden told British Baker that Puccino’s had gone into administration because of the “appalling” economic climate. “We are looking to consolidate the business in 2010 and grow turnover for our franchisees,” he said. To help achieve this, Puccino’s is currently in talks with its bakery suppliers about developing a new range of sandwiches, hot savouries and pies, as well as introducing healthier and gluten-free items, said Brogden. “Most of our outlets are at travel locations such as railway stations, so we are looking to develop our grab-and-go range,” he added.The company is also looking to open more franchised outlets in the UK as well as internationally, with interest already expressed from a party in Egypt, and mainland Europe a possible target, said Brogden. In its accounts for the year ended 31 December 2008, Puccino’s saw a loss before tax of approximately £1.66m on turn-over of nearly £4.1m.
Luxury pudding maker Coles Traditional Foods is to become part of the Wilkin & Sons group, best-known for its Tiptree preserves.Coles, based near Saffron Walden, Essex, specialises in the production of traditional Christmas puddings, premium puddings and cakes.It employs around 20 staff at its site at Great Chesterford, and has seen increasing UK sales, as well as a successful export business.Chris Cole, whose father started the business over 70 years ago, will remain as managing director. “It’s very much business as usual here at Great Chesterford,” said Cole. “My main concern was to protect the future of the business and to look after the workforce. I’m delighted that we will be working with Wilkin & Sons.”Ian Thurgood, joint MD of Wilkin & Sons, commented: “Coles has an international reputation for high quality. It’s a great opportunity for two premium brands to work together. We plan to develop and strengthen the Coles brand.”In April this year Wilkin & Sons announced the purchase of 100% of the shares of Raven Patisserie, now Tiptree Patisserie.>>Raven Patisserie changes name to Tiptree
Free-from bakery brand Mrs Crimble’s has undergone a major packaging revamp, with a “brighter, bolder and more contemporary” look.MD Jeremy Woods said he wanted the range to convey the enjoyment and fun of having a treat.“The new logo is made up of a heart incorporating an oven glove – symbolising the love that people have for Mrs Crimble’s products,” he explained.Customer feedback helped guide the design of the new packaging, said Woods. “Because we genuinely love talking to our customers – whether on the phone, via Facebook or face to face at all the county shows we go to – we have always known that there is a huge amount of love for our products, as well as the brand as a whole. That’s what inspired our new strapline; ‘let’s bake love’.”The firm has also launched new Cranberry Macaroons to celebrate the new look.>>Mrs Crimble’s boost listings in major multiples
The number of unemployed people in the UK rose again in the second quarter of the year, to a total of 2.51 million, the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show.The figure is an increase of 80,000 on the previous three months, the sharpest rise for nearly two years. The unemployment rate now stands at 7.9%. The data also revealed that public sector employment fell by 110,000 in the period and this was only partially offset by an increase of 41,000 new private sector jobs.This comes a day after it was revealed that the official rate of inflation rose to 4.5% – mostly off the back of increased utility costs.A 3.7% increase in the price of clothing and footwear, as well as higher gas and electricity bills, were chiefly to blame for the August inflation rise according to the ONS.The Bank of England has consistently failed to meet its 2% target and the consumer prices index has been at least double the target since the beginning of 2011.
The recent thumping defeat of Manchester United by Manchester City proved just too tempting for one Tesco employee. Just three days after the defeat, the clear City fan changed the price of confectionery items on two cakes one with the Man U logo and one with the City logo to mimic the score line. The City cake was priced at £6, the Man U cake at £1 with the words Price Drop clearly on the label.Needless to say the images went viral online in next to no time. Sir Alex Ferguson, eat your heart out
Food sales are up 3.6% at Waitrose on a like-for-like basis. The retailer said it had increased its market share by 0.2% to 4.1% in the year ended 28 January 2012, with sales excluding VAT up 7.9% to £5.07bn.However, operating profit was down 5.2% to £260.6mDuring the period, Waitrose opened 29 new branches (14 supermarkets and 15 convenience stores), and launched three new ranges: the Love Life range of healthy meals, the You Count calorie-controlled range and the Good to Go line.The retailer said: “Customers’ perception of value in Waitrose has risen markedly in response to the investments made over the past three years: Essential Waitrose, Brand Price Match and increased promotional participation, up by 4% to 27.8%.” The Essential range grew by 10% over the year, with Waitrose own-label products now accounting for 54% of its sales – a 9% increase on last year.Its online orders also rose, seeing a 34.5% increase during the period, with the service now available in 152 branches.