Premier Foods hailed strong performances by brands including Ambrosia, Branston’s and Loyd Grossman, as Britain’s largest food manufacturer predicted a rise in operating profits of 3.5% for the past year.

Operating profits for the year expected to hit £320m, with total sales up 2.2% to £2.66bn.

Sales at its bakery division rose by just over 13% in the past 12 months as Hovis upped its market share by three percentage points to 25.9%. Its chilled division, which includes the recently launched Loyd Grossman pizzas as well as cooking sauces, notched up growth of 5.5%.

Sales of its own-label groceries fared less well, dipping by 5% in the fourth quarter and by more than a quarter (25%) in bakery.

At the end of last year, group debt stood at £1.375bn. Premier will release full figures for its 2009 performance on 16 February.