Premier Foods – the parent company of Hovis – has confirmed this morning that it has appointed a company to look at options for investment into the bread brand.

The company updated the market to confirm it had appointed Ondra Partners, a private equity group, to look at its options - following rumours it was to put Hovis up for sale.

Shares in Premier Foods were up by 2.7% as markets opened on Wednesday. The company has spent £28m on restructuring its bread business this year after closing two mills and three bakeries, and losing several contracts.

In a note to the London Stock Exchange, the company, which also owns the Mr Kipling, Bisto and Sharwoods brands, said: “Premier Foods notes the recent press reports regarding potential investment in its bread business.

“The company confirms it has appointed Ondra Partners to assist in developing investment options for the bread business, which include co-investment by a partner. There can be no certainty that a transaction will follow at any point in the future, but the company will provide updates as appropriate.”

Last year it was reported that Hovis was being positioned for sale, with investment bank Goldman Sachs brought in to seek out buyers – however, Premier Foods would not confirm that speculation at the time.

Most recently, the chief executive Gavin Darby had looked like he had ruled out a sale of the brand when he said he looked to “grow” brands.