Food group RHM has announced its intention to offer shares and to be listed on the London Stock Exchange.

RHM's products include Hovis bread and Mr Kipling cakes, as well as bakery and sauce mixes.

RHM also announced the appointment of Jan du Plessis as non-executive Chairman.  He is also chairman of British American Tobacco plc, a position that he has held since July of last year, prior to which he was, for many years, group finance director of Richemont, the Swiss luxury goods group.

"Today's announcement that we intend to IPO (Initial Public Offering) represents a major milestone and is a logical next step in our strategy to transform RHM into the leading U.K. focused food company," said CEO Ian McMahon. "The new management team has laid the foundations for sustained future growth in shareholder value by beginning to leverage RHM's outstanding brand portfolio and addressing the key issues facing the company.  RHM's strong financial performance demonstrates our success to date."

"We are confident of maintaining our momentum through the strength of our leading brands," he said. "Our strong cash generation is enabling us to re-invest for profitable, branded top line growth via increased investment in advertising and new product development."

 "I am pleased to have been asked to take on the chairmanship of RHM and it is exciting for me to be part of its ongoing transformation, said chairman Jan du Plessis. "Ian McMahon has put in place a top class management team and I have every confidence that, with its new business model and a strong portfolio of category leading brands, RHM is well placed to become the leading UK- focused food company."

RHM's turnover was £1.527bn (US$2.78bn) in the year ended 30 April, compared with £1.517bn in the year to 1 May 2004. Branded turnover rose 2.6%, partly offset by a decline in lower margin own label business. RHM generated an audited operating profit before operating exceptional items and goodwill amortisation of £155m (year ended 1 May 2004: £121m) on a continuing operations basis.

The significantly improved financial performance in the year ended 30 April 2005 demonstrates the success of RHM's strategy to transform itself from a collection of substantially independently operated food companies into a more efficient, centrally coordinated and managed group, the company said.