Our Bureau

Kolkata, Oct. 13

THE Apeejay Surrendra Group, better known as Apeejay, has announced plans to acquire the entire tea business of the UK-based Premier Foods plc, including the company's well-known brands such as Typhoo, London Fruit & Herb, Lift and other associated brands.

The deal has been closed at £80 million to be paid in cash. The transaction is expected to be completed shortly.

Apart from the brands, Apeejay will acquire Premier's own label contracts and the Moreton tea manufacturing facility in Merseyside, which employs 249 people. As on December 31, 2004, Premier's tea business had registered net sales of £70.2 million and gross sales of about £80 million.

The Apeejay group has diversified business interests, including tea, hospitality, retail, shipping, financial services and property. It has two principal tea companies, Apeejay Tea Ltd and Empire and Singlo Tea Ltd, producing over 21 million kg of tea from a plantation area of over 30,000 acres. The company's single estate teas Sessa, Oengaree and Khobong are sold in Harrods and other premium tea boutiques across the world.

"We are delighted to have acquired the Premier tea business and the iconic Typhoo brand. The business has strong growth potential. We are confident that our commitment to increasing investment both on the brands and the own label business, combined with Apeejay's extensive tea experience, will help us build market share," said Mr Karan Paul, chairman of Apeejay Surrendra Group, in a press release.

While Premier will offer transitional services, including commercial and administrative support, Apeejay plans to hire a management team to be based in Moreton as soon as possible.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated October 14, 2005)
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