LONDON — The successful relaunch of the company’s Hovis brand helped Premier Foods P.L.C. secure a 25.7% share of the wrapped bread market in the four weeks ended April 18 while boosting the London-based company’s baking unit sales 6% in the 16 weeks ended April 25. The Hovis brand held a 22.2% share of the wrapped bread market in the same period a year earlier.

In an interim management statement issued May 12, Premier Foods said total group sales rose 3%.

"We are pleased by the solid start that the group has made in 2009," said Robert Schofield, chief executive officer. "We have seen continued strong sales growth by our Grocery division during the first four months of the year. This was driven mainly be pricing achieved during 2008 despite sales volume growth being held back during the period by an element of destocking by some retailers.

"Our biggest brand, Hovis, has continued to make excellent progress following its relaunch last year and is now the clear No. 2 in the wrapped bread market with a market share of over 25%. Further activity and innovation is planned on Hovis during the remainder of 2009."

According to Premier Foods, that activity and innovation includes the launch of Hovis rolls, which will feature advertising from the "Go On Lad" theme, used in the relaunch last year.

The company said sales in its baking business were 6% ahead of the same period a year ago, with strong branded sales growth partly offset by lower volumes of private label bread. In addition, bulk flour sales have decreased following the company’s exit from a low margin flour contract during 2008.