INTERNATIONAL food deals were back on the menu yesterday after a Japanese firm swooped on Sarson’s vinegar and Haywards pickle, while German yogurt-maker Müller swallow another British dairy.
Premier Foods sold Sarson’s, Haywards and speciality vinegar brand Dufrais for £41 million to Japanese peer Mizkan, which already has a plant in Staffordshire and is a major supplier of rice vinegar in the UK.
The deal is part of Premier’s strategy of selling off smaller brands so that it can concentrate its efforts on growing sales of eight “power brands”, including Ambrosia custard, Hovis bread and Mr Kipling pies.
Premier expects to complete the sale by the end of the month, with all the staff from the business – which is primarily based near Manchester – due to transfer to Mizkan.
St Albans-based Premier – which also makes Batchelors noodles, Bisto gravy and Lloyd Grossman sauces – has been struggling under a near-£1 billion debt mountain following a spending spree that included Mr Kipling-owner RHM.
Analysts now think the firm is on the mend after recently sealing a “landmark” £1.4bn refinancing deal.
Premier chief executive Michael Clarke said: “I’m delighted that we have found a buyer such as Mizkan.
“Our vinegars and sour pickles business and employees will greatly benefit from being part of a global player focused on vinegar and liquid condiments.”
Sarson’s was created in 1794 by Thomas Sarson and is the UK’s best-selling vinegar. The product, which is a staple of UK fish and chip shops, was once owned by Crosse & Blackwell.
The Haywards business dates back to 1868 and includes products such as pickled onions, beetroot, red cabbage, piccalilli and gherkins. Some of the lines are distributed from Premier’s Bury St Edmunds factory.
News of the deal came as German dairy business Müller snapped up a factory in Shropshire that makes desserts under licence from Cadbury.
Müller already makes the mousses and triffles on behalf of the chocolate firm – which itself fell into the hands of American firm Kraft in 2010 – but will now buy the facility from Uniq, part of food giant Greencore.
Heiner Kamps, chief executive at parent firm Unternehmensgruppe Theo Müller, said: “The acquisition is in line with our strategy to internationally acquire profitable companies in markets where we already are a successful player.”
Müller dipped into the Scottish market in January by snapping up East Kilbride-based Robert Wiseman Dairies in a deal worth almost £280m that saw the dairy delisted.
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