Premier Foods, which plans to buy RHM for £1.2bn, has warned trading for the year will be at the lower end of expectations because of increasing cost pressures and warmer weather.

“The warmer weather, which extended through to early December, has meant that Christmas trading has commenced later than expected and the outturn for the year is dependent on trading in the final two weeks of the year,” the company said in a trading statement.

“We have continued to see cost pressures over the second half of the year, which we do not expect to be fully offset until the early part of 2007. These pressures coupled with the effect on volumes of the exceptional period of warm weather which has continued into December means that we anticipate that trading for the year will be at the lower end of our expectations,” it added.

Sales in its convenience foods, sauces and meat free division, which includes Quorn and Cauldron, are anticipated to be significantly ahead of 2005 due to the acquisition of the UK and Ireland businesses of Campbell Soup Company earlier this year, while sales for its fresh produce division are expected to be in line with expectations.

However, sales in its spreads, desserts and beverages division, which includes Ambrosia and Hartley's, are anticipated to be lower than anticipated due to the replacement of the Cadbury beverages licence earlier this year.

“We are looking forward to completing the acquisition of RHM early next year and are excited by all the opportunities that bringing these two great businesses together will offer,” added Premier Foods CEO Robert Schofield.