Bury St Edmunds: Uncertainty for Premier Foods workers following Haywards sale

WORKERS at the Bury St Edmunds factory of Premier Foods have been reassured over their future after the group agreed a deal to sell its Haywards pickles brand.

Premier is to sell Haywards, together with its Sarsons and Dufrais vinegar brands, to Japanese company Mizkan in a deal valued at �41million and due for completion by the end of next month.

The businesses are mainly based at Premier’s Middleton factory, near Manchester, where staff will transfer to Mizkan, which already has an operation at Burntwood in Staffordshire supplying rice vinegar to the UK market.

However, two production lines at the Bury St Edmunds factory, in Mildenhall Road, are also involved in the production of Haywards pickled onions, piccallily and beetroot.

A spokesman for Premier said that the deal with Mizkan included an agreement for Haywards production to continue at the Bury factory for a further 12 months.

Haywards products represented an relative small part of operations at the site and there were likely to be opportunities for staff to transfer to other brands. Any impact of jobs was “likely to be minimal”, he added.

Premier is in the process of selling off a number of non-core brands in order to concentrate on a portfolio of eight “power brands” including Ambrosia, Batchelors, Bisto, Hovis, Loyd Grossman, Mr. Kipling, Oxo and Sharwood’s. The group has been struggling under a near �1billion 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.

Most Read

Commenting on today’s deal, chief executive Michael Clarke said: “I’m delighted that 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.”

Sarson’s was created in 1794 by Thomas Sarson and is the country’s best-selling vinegar brand. The product, which is a staple of UK fish and chip shops and is 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.

Other Premier Foods products made at the Bury St Edmunds factory include Loyd Grossman cooking sauces, Branston pickles and own-label products for leading supermarkets Tesco, Asda, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s.