LONDON — Sales of Hovis branded bread rose 22% in the third quarter ended Sept. 26, helping drive a 6% gain in total branded sales at Premier Foods, the company said in an interim management statement issued Oct. 15. "We saw a significant decrease in retailer brand bread volumes as we elected to exit certain unprofitable contracts during the period," Premier Foods said of the Hovis division. "As a result, total sales in our baking business showed a significant improvement with 72% of sales now branded, up from 63% in the same period last year." The company said it continues to invest in the Hovis brand, including the introduction of a new Farmhouse soft white loaf.