* Mr Kipling cakes, Nissin noodles boost profit
* To launch new range of mini cakes
* Cuts debt; shares jump 10% (Adds CEO comment, shares, background)
By Tanishaa Nadkar
Nov 12 (Reuters) - Premier Foods will launch a new range of mince pies, cherry bakewells and fruit pies packaged as Mr Kipling mini cakes ahead of Christmas, after a relaunch of the popular sweet treats brand helped it bounce back to profit.
Shares in the Bisto gravy and OXO cube maker surged as much as 10% after the group reported a first-half pretax profit of 15 million pounds ($19.19 million), compared to a loss of 2.2 million pounds last year.
They are the first set of results under Chief Executive Alex Whitehouse, who is trying to turn around the company after its share price tanked following a failed takeover attempt by U.S. food maker McCormick & Co Inc three years ago.
Whitehouse has been credited with turning around Premier Food’s UK business, including a relaunch of the Mr Kipling cake brand, which has outperformed the rest of the group.
Premier Foods sales have been boosted by a TV advertising push.
The company also said sales of Nissin Soba Noodles & Cup Noodles, which it sells in a partnership with its biggest shareholder Nissin Foods Holdings, more than doubled.
The group, which also reported lower debt, now plans to capitalise on Mr Kipling’s successful re-boot with mini versions of its sweet treats.
“The introduction of these new mini versions of some of Mr Kipling’s most popular products follows the significant re-configuration of an existing manufacturing line at its Stoke bakery,” the company said.
“This has vastly improved the flexibility of different cake sizes and types and facilitates the development of more new products which closely match consumer trends,” it added.
Shares in the company were up 7.9% to 36 pence at 1029 GMT.
The Ambrosia rice pudding maker, which has been chopping away at its debt, reported net debt of 492.9 million pounds at the end of the first-half, compared to 509.5 million pounds last year.
Whitehouse also said the company was getting “quite rehearsed” at stockpiling ahead of Brexit and that it continued to take the precautions it took since the “first Brexit” deadline of March 29. ($1 = 0.7815 pounds) (Reporting by Tanishaa Nadkar in Bengaluru and writing by Noor Zainab Hussain; Editing by Rashmi Aich and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)