Swiss bakery group Aryzta has entered into negotiations to acquire a 49% stake in Picard - a speciality French food retailer, owned by private equity group Lion Capital. 

Under the terms of the deal, Aryzta will acquire a 49% stake in the company for €446.6 million (£324.3m). The deal will be funded by the proceeds of the recent sale of agri-business Origin Enterprises, which raised more than €400m for Aryzta.

“Picard has delivered consistent revenue, EBITDA and market share growth over the past 40 years,” said Owen Killian, CEO of Aryzta.

“It offers Aryzta the future potential to acquire a highly successful business-to- consumer platform, focused on premium speciality food, which complements Aryzta’s business-to-professional platform. Picard is a highly predictable business and an ideal replacement for Aryzta’s Origin holding and allows Aryzta to strategically move up the value chain.”

Lion, which owns brands including Kettle Foods, Weetabix and Wagamama, acquired Picard from a rival private equity group in 2010.

Founded in 1974, Picard is the number one frozen food retailer in France, with a nearly 1,000 stores. It also operates a much smaller number of shops in Italy, Sweden and Belgium. In its most recent fiscal year, the company generated total sales of over €1.3 billion.

Aryzta was formed when Irish bakery business IAWS Group merged with Swiss company Hiestand Holding in August 2008.