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High wheat prices and fierce competition have left the bread brand struggling to regain its market leadership.
When Premier Foods acquired Hovis as part of its pounds 1.2bn takeover of the bread brand's owner RHM in 2006, the deal, which doubled Premier's size, was met with acclaim in the City, sending its share price through the roof.
It seemed a canny acquisition. Hovis had, after all, dominated the UK bread market since the late 90s, and remains a major player as the UK's 10th biggest supermarket brand in 2007, according to TNS Worldpanel's Biggest Brands survey. However, it has been toppled from its top spot in the bread sector by Warburtons.
While Hovis could lay the blame on rocketing wheat prices, which have affected food manufacturers across the board, cost does not seem to be as significant a …