LEADING vinegar brand Sarson’s and pickles business Haywards has been sold to a Japanese firm in a £41m deal.
Premier Foods is also selling speciality vinegar Dufrais as it focuses on a core portfolio that includes Hovis, Mr Kipling and Batchelors.
The businesses, which are primarily based at Premier’s Middleton factory near Manchester, are being sold to Mizkan, which has operations at Burntwood in Staffordshire and is a major supplier of rice vinegar in the UK.
The deal is expected to complete by the end of next month, with all staff due to transfer to the new owner.
Sarson’s was created in 1794 by Thomas Sarson and is the country’s best-selling vinegar brand. The product, a staple of UK fish and chip shops and sold in a pear-shaped bottle, was once owned by Crosse & Blackwell.
The Haywards business dates back to 1868 and has a product portfolio that includes pickled onions, beetroot, red cabbage, piccalilli and gherkins. Some of the lines are distributed from Premier’s Bury St Edmunds factory.
St Albans-based Premier, which also owns Bisto, Ambrosia and Loyd Grossman products, is planning to focus its operations on eight “power brands”.
It has been struggling under a near £1 billion debt mountain following a spending spree that included Mr Kipling owner RHM, but is now on the mend after recently sealing a £1.4 billion refinancing deal.
Chief executive Michael Clarke said: “I’m delighted that we have found a buyer such as Mizkan.”