In the second major sell off of British companies to Japan-based companies in a day, Branston Pickle, owned by Premier Foods was sold to the Japanese manufacturer of vinegar, Mizkan for a cool £92.5m.
Premier Food’s factory at Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk is to be included as part of the deal. Commentators have pointed out the British food manufacturer’s debts of over £1bn as a major factor in the string of sell offs over the past 12 months.
The Branston deal is the latest – Sarson’s Vinegar was sold to the same Japanese company for £41m in June this year, and Premier sold Hartley’s Jam to US manufacturer Hain Celestial in August.
The firm’s chief executive Michael Clarke said in a statement to the press: “I’m delighted to have exceeded our disposal target 20 months early while at the same time delivering three successive quarters of sales growth and taking £40m of overhead costs out of the business this year.”
Mr Clarke’s upbeat tone reflects the fact that Premier is now able to meet financing requirements. It is also rumoured to be considering selling Hovis – another British food manufacturing icon.
As a result of the confirmation of the sale, the company’s shares rose 7.4% to 108p today (Tuesday).