The run-up to Brexit has affected the sales of Premier Foods in Ireland, the UK manufacturer has said.

The Mr Kipling cakes and Bisto gravy maker today (17 July) reported a 1% rise in its total first-quarter sales.

However, Premier revealed revenue outside the UK – its domestic market still accounts for the bulk of sales – fell 18%, hampered by pressure in neighbouring Ireland.

“International sales were, as expected, held back primarily due to slower sales in Ireland and were 18% down compared to the prior year. This was due to the unwind of Brexit-related stock in Irish customers’ supply chains. The international business is, however, expected to return to sales growth in subsequent quarters,” Premier said in a trading update for the 13 weeks to 29 June.

The UK had been due to leave the EU on 29 March but the two markets agreed an extension to try to agree a deal on the terms of departure by 31 October.

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Overall, Premier’s first-quarter sales rose 1.1%. Sales from brands were up 2.9%. Premier said non-branded sales dropped 8.9%. Total sales increased 2.6%.

Acting CEO Alastair Murray described the sales results as “an encouraging start” to Premier’s financial year. He added: “Many of our largest brands have built on strong category positions and grown market share, and we achieved branded growth in the quarter of nearly 3%. These figures provide evidence that the company’s strategy is delivering results.”

Murray became Premier’s acting CEO in January after the company announced the departure of Gavin Darby, who had stood at the helm for almost six years. Premier said today it was continuing to look for a permanent successor to Darby.

In February, Premier announced it would start a “review of strategic options” after talking to its largest investors.

Jefferies analyst Martin Deboo said Premier’s first quarter was “in line with expectations”. He added: “Full-year guidance is unchanged, reflecting continuing good, patient work on the ground while boardroom and strategic review dramas continue to play out in the skies above.”