11 (6) Hovis

Sales: £358.9m -13.4%

The £55.7m loss in sales suffered by Hovis was the biggest in grocery last year, but things could finally be looking up for the beleaguered brand.

Owner Premier Foods appears to have taken on board some suggestions that Hovis had no place in the same stable as Mr Kipling and Sharwood’s, announcing in January that it was splitting off its bread division as Hovis Ltd - a joint venture with The Gores Group.

The move, which brings in a £200m five-year investment programme, is designed to improve efficiency and reinvigorate the brand.

It could certainly do with a shot in the arm. Last April saw the termination of a major contract to supply The Co-op Group, while rivals Warburtons and Kingsmill have been stealing share (Kingsmill has left Hovis for dust in this ranking). All this came three months after Hovis was forced to renege on its pledge to use only British wheat due to the disastrous 2012 wheat harvest.

Coming activity is expected to include NPD in the growing sandwich alternatives and morning goods markets, areas where Hovis has arguably fallen behind - and in healthier bread. “Hovis produces loaves in the wholemeal, half-and-half, and seeded granary sectors, and is perfectly placed to help retailers capitalise on the health trend,” says Hovis marketing director Matt Hunt.

That’s not all. Hunt raised a few eyebrows last week when he announced Hovis is returning to its pledge to use only British wheat. “It’s really gratifying to be able to support our local farmers, whenever and wherever possible,” he adds.

See the complete list of Britain’s 100 Biggest Grocery Brands.