Boparan Holdings has offered to sell a Christmas pudding business in a bid to overcome competition concerns on its proposed acquisition of Brookes Avana from Premier Foods.
Boparan Holdings, the food conglomerate behind 2 Sisters, acquired Matthew Walker, the Christmas pudding company, when it purchased rival Northern Foods in a £341m deal in January 2011.
However, its further move for the two firms from Premier would bring together the UK’s two largest producers of Christmas puddings – a move that has caught the attention of the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).
Now, Boparan Holdings has offered to sell either its Avana production site in Newport or the Matthew Walker facility in Heanor in Derbyshire in a bid to appease the government department.
Amelia Fletcher, OFT chief economist and decision-maker in this case, said: “This merger brings together the two main suppliers of Christmas puddings to the major grocery retailers in the UK, and although these puddings might only be purchased once a year, total sales are over £40m a year.
“We are concerned that this loss of competition could ultimately lead to price rises for consumers at a time of year that is already very costly for families. The OFT is now considering the remedy offered by the parties to remove these competition concerns.”
While the proposal by Boparan Holdings is being considered, the OFT said it had suspended a move to refer its merger to the Competition Commission.