Premier Foods, the company at the centre of the Sudan 1 dye scare, today (Wednesday) announced rises in profits and sales for the year ended 31 December 2004 and said the Sudan 1 issue would not affect it financially.

Operating profit was £71.9m, (US$137.49m) up from £65.9m in 2003. Sales in 2004 were £842.m, compared with £773.8m in 2003.

“2004 has been a tremendously exciting year for Premier and we are pleased to deliver a robust set of full year results in line with our expectations,” said Robert Schofield, chief executive of Premier Foods plc. “We have grown our profits despite challenging market conditions and the serious fire at our Bury St Edmunds factory, which held back sales of two of our drive brands – Branston and Loyd Grossman.  Ambrosia has made an excellent contribution to the business in its first full year of ownership, on top of a strong performance from the existing business.”

“We were also delighted to announce the acquisition of Bird’s custard and Angel Delight this year which will provide further growth opportunities for the group,” he said. Our business is underpinned by strong brands, scale, efficiency and cash generation which will enable us to deliver continuing healthy growth.”

The issue over the banned dye Sudan 1, which appeared in a Worcester sauce manufactured by the company, would make no difference to the company’s finances, he said. “The Sudan 1 issue has been an upheaval for the business in terms of time and effort,” he said. “However, in financial terms, based upon our assessment of claims and our insurance position, we believe the company does not have a material financial exposure. We will continue to review the situation on a daily basis and should the situation change materially we will update the markets accordingly.”