Premier Meals is in talks to promote its Ambrosia model because the group introduced that its chief govt, Gavin Darby, is to go away the corporate in January, months after a spat with activist traders.
The meals group mentioned it was “in discussions with numerous events” concerning the sale of Ambrosia, its custard and rice pudding model initially created in 1971 in Devon and nonetheless manufactured there right this moment.
Premier mentioned a sale would permit the agency to deal with its rising manufacturers, akin to Batchelors, and to speed up the speed at which it pays down debt.
Darby, who has been chief govt for six years, mentioned he would step down on 31 January as the corporate took on a brand new technique.
“The board has decided that it ought to focus assets on areas of the enterprise which have the very best potential for development by accelerated funding in client advertising and excessive return capital initiatives,” he mentioned.
In July Darby confronted a shareholder revolt after 41% didn’t again his re-election. At a stormy annual assembly, the activist shareholder Oasis Administration known as on Darby to step down whatever the end result of the vote, accusing him of driving Premier right into a “zombie-like state” due to his failure to drive development.
Darby, nonetheless, secured the backing of a majority of shareholders and the board.
The corporate introduced his departure alongside the agency’s first-half outcomes. Pretax losses within the six months to 29 September widened to £2.2m from £1.2m in the identical interval a yr earlier.
Income rose 1.3% £358m, boosted by the relaunch of its Mr Kipling desserts model and by rising demand for its Batchelors comfort pots vary.
Premier Meals mentioned Mr Kipling had a “storming” first half, with income up 13% after a revamp that included an up to date model brand, improved packaging and TV promoting, in addition to new product improvement akin to Unicorn and Flamingo slices.
The corporate mentioned meals manufacturers had largely been shielded from a wider slowdown in client spending.
“The group recognises the difficult time skilled by the broader client sector in latest months. Nonetheless, it notes a transparent disparity between income developments within the meals sector in comparison with the non-food sector of the UK client items market, with meals sector gross sales demonstrating stronger developments over a number of months,” Premier Meals mentioned.
“As well as, whereas the speed of normal inflation beforehand ran forward of common earnings roughly a yr in the past, this development has now reversed and accordingly buying energy for shoppers has strengthened.”