Business briefs: Baxters | Merson | Provident Financial | Cheryl Black

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BAXTERS, the Fochabers-based food manufacturer, is to buy a vinegar factory in Staffordshire, clearing the way for Japanese firm Nakano to complete its acquisition of Premier Foods’ vinegar and pickles businesses.

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) said it will not refer the deal to the Competition Commission after Baxters agreed to take over the plant at Burntwood under a deal proposed in September.

The regulator said: “The sale of the Burntwood plant to Baxters restores pre-existing levels of competition in the manufacture and supply of these vinegars to UK customers.”

• Sign maker Merson Group has created ten jobs following its takeover in December of fellow East Kilbride-based company CGL Systems.

Merson – which lists John Lewis, Tesco and Volvo among its clients and which provided signs for last summer’s Olympic Games – recruited five office-based trainees through the Talent Scotland graduate placement programme run by Scottish Enterprise and five “shop-floor” apprentices via its local Job Centre.

The company said that it expects to create a further ten posts in East Kilbride.

• Provident Financial reported a 12 per cent rise in full-year profit, boosted by strong growth at Vanquis Bank which provides credit cards to those turned down by mainstream banks.

The company, which targets the estimated ten million people in Britain likely to be refused credit by the main lenders, also said it was increasing its medium-term customer growth target for Vanquis in the UK. Provident hopes to have between 1.3 million and 1.5 million customers at Vanquis in the next few years, up 30 per cent on previous guidance.

• Former Scottish Water customer service director Cheryl Black is to join the board of Skipton Building Society as a non-executive director at the end of this week.

Black, who left the publicly-owned utility in 2006 to join mobile phone operator O2, is currently a non-executive at Southern Water and a board adviser to nuclear power generator EDF. She takes up her new role on 1 March.

Skipton also said that Helen Stevenson, a former group marketing director at Lloyds TSB, will join as a non-executive on the same date.