US consumer products group Sara Lee has raised its first quarter earnings forecast by 21% as the benefits of its two year reshaping programme kick in.

With products ranging from its bakery goods to Jimmy Dean hot dogs, Hanes underwear and Kiwi shoe polish, Sara Lee said operating profit growing more than 20% in the first quarter and more than 15% in the full year.

Company boss Steve McMillan said its focus now would be on market share gains in its existing brands, through more advertising plus the introduction of new products, such as crustless bread for kids under the Iron Kids name.

In August 2001, Sara Lee bought Earthgrains, the second-largest fresh bread company in the US for $3bn.

Separately, Sara Lee said it is to launch a range of five fresh breads Stateside, which include added ingredients such as brown sugar, honey and butter.