Beans go boom, but spuds sink
ONE of the region's biggest employers, Premier Foods, offered both good news and bad news to its workforce this week. Firstly it announced its new Branston baked beans range made at the company's Long Sutton factory had beaten all expectations. Branst
ONE of the region's biggest employers, Premier Foods, offered both good news and bad news to its workforce this week.Firstly it announced its new Branston baked beans range - made at the company's Long Sutton factory - had beaten all expectations.Branston baked beans, says Premier, has snared seven per cent of the market in the first three months since its launch.But there was gloomy news for its MBM division based in March and Chatteris where profits continued to slump.MBM comes within Premier's fresh produce division where sales slipped 29.3 per cent last year to £106.3million and profits slumped 91.2 per cent to £500,000. Part of the difficulty is the MBM business - mainly based in March and which supplies bagged potatoes to retailers and wholesalers - where prices fell and major contracts were lost.Unveiling profits of £90.2m for last year, Premier said it had spent £3.5m on marketing its Branston Beans as it looks to challenge the domination of Heinz.Premier, which also owns factories at Wisbech, Bury St Edmunds and Histon, saw profits rise by 11.9 per cent after a year in which it made several acquisitions, including meat substitute quorn, and faced "significant" rises in energy costs.Robert Schofield, chief executive of Premier Foods, said: "As previously indicated, our potato business has suffered as customers have rationalised their supplier base but we have taken decisive action to cut the cost base and align the business with the new requirements of its customer base.