Bird's Custard, Branston pickle, Ambrosia and Cadbury's cakes are the main products Premier Foods is backing for Christmas, chief executive Robert Schofield revealed this week.

Schofield told The Grocer that Premier was well placed for Christmas with a substantial festive business, which it could build on through NPD.

He was speaking after Premier Foods revealed pre-tax profit had fallen 49.6% to £13.9m for the half-year to 30 June.

But Schofield was upbeat when claiming the market should expect "exciting innovation" over the next few months from Premier's former Campbell's brands, which include Oxo and Batchelors. This kicks off with the launch of Batchelors Soupfulls ready-to-eat-soups this month and Oxo liquid stock before Christmas.

The Batchelors Soupfulls range consists of five varieties: classic beef & vegetable, chicken & country vegetable, Tuscan tomato & pasta, creamy chicken potato & mushroom, and Mediterranean tomato & vegetable. They have an rsp of £1.39 for a 400g pouch.

The range, which is being positioned at the premium end of the market as a light meal, will be backed with a £4m campaign. This will start at the beginning of next year, including TV, PoS and sampling activity.

Meanwhile, Schofield claimed that the Culinary Brands division of RHM, which it acquired in March, provided opportunities over the next six months, with growth to be gained from brands such as Sharwood's, Bisto, Robertson's, Frank Cooper and Paxo.

"We will focus on how to optimise the position of these brands in their categories," said Schofield.

Although trading profit in its bread bakeries division was down 50%, he said the integration of RHM's brands - including Hovis - was on track.

Schofield added that the highly promoted Branston beans brand did not fare so well over the past six months. However, sales of Branston's other products, such as Original pickle, were up by 5%.