Branston Pickle bought by Japanese firm

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Britain’s biggest food producer has sold its Branston Pickle business for £92.5 million to Japan’s Mizkan Group, as part of its effort to trim debt.

Premier Foods’ sale of its pickle and vinegar division includes other Branston products such as ketchup, relish, salad cream and mayonnaise, along with its Bury St Edmunds factory in Suffolk.

The heavily indebted food group, which also makes Hovis bread, Batchelors quick meals and Mr Kipling cakes, said it has identified eight key brands it will keep and has been selling other businesses to reduce its £1.3 billion debt pile, built up over an acquisition spree before the 2008 financial crisis.

Once the deal is completed, Premier will have generated about £370m by disposing of assets since March, when it secured a £1.4bn refinancing deal on condition that it would raise £330m by June 2014.

Privately held condiment-maker Mizkan bought Premier’s vinegar and sour pickles business, including brands such as Sarson’s, Haywards and Dufrais, for £41m in July. Shares in Premier rose 7.5p or 7.4 per cent to 109p.