Japan brings out the Branston with £93m buy from Premier

  • @Thompj

Premier Foods is to sell its sweet pickles and sauces business, including its nearly 200-year-old Branston brand, to a Japanese company for £93m as part of its strategy to offload units to reduce its £1bn-plus debt mountain.

The disposal by the owner of Hovis bread is the second deal it has struck with Mizkan in the last three months after it completed the sale of its vinegar and sour pickles division, including the Sarson's and Haywards brands, to the company for £41m in July.

Premier Foods said yesterday's £92.5m sale includes the Branston sweet pickle, ketchup, relish, salad cream and mayonnaise, as well as its factory in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. Once the deal is completed next year, the food manufacturer will have raised £370m from disposals since March, ahead of its target of £330m by June 2014 to help slash net debt of £1.3bn.

Mizkan chief executive Kazuhide Matazaemon Nakano said: "Branston Sweet Pickle is an iconic brand that has established a market-leading position." Branston, which had turnover of £35m last year, was first produced in an eponymous district of Burton upon Trent, Staffordshire, in 1829.

It was developed into a brand by Crosse & Blackwell in 1922 and acquired by Premier Foods from Nestlé in 2002.

Shares in Premier Foods yesterday rose by 7.5pp, or 7 per cent, to109p.