Japan in £41m buy from Premier Foods

Britain's best-known vinegar and pickles brands have been sold to the Japanese in a £41m deal.

Premier Foods yesterday offloaded Sarson's and Dufrais vinegars and Haywards pickles to the food producer Mizkan. The move is part of its strategy to turn around the struggling business by concentrating on eight "power brands", which include Hovis and Oxo. Sarson's, the UK's best-selling vinegar brand, was created in 1794 by Thomas Sarson. The Haywards business dates back more than 100 years.

The products are predominantly made in Middleton, near Manchester, and Premier said all the staff will transfer to Mizkan.

Premier Foods has a near-£1bn debt mountain and a huge pension scheme deficit. The present chief executive, Michael Clarke, said: "I'm delighted we have found a buyer such as Mizkan. Our vinegars and sour pickles business and employees will greatly benefit from being part of a global player focused on vinegar and liquid condiments."

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