Northern suitor mulls next move

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Greencore makes own-label sandwiches and other convenience food for major supermarket chains

The battle over Fox’s biscuits firm Northern Foods continues to simmer after the UK’s biggest sandwich maker again refused to rule out a bid.

Dublin-based Greencore said it was still considering its response to a rival £342 million offer from the owner of the Harry Ramsden’s fish restaurants. That deal, struck in January, scuppered Greencore’s hopes of a merger with Northern.

It has been reported that Greencore, which makes own-label sandwiches and other chilled convenience food for some of the UK’s biggest supermarket chains, is working on a possible higher offer backed by private equity.

Leeds-based Northern, the maker of Goodfella’s pizza and a range of other supermarket products, agreed a merger with Greencore before switching sides to Boparan, which also owns the Two Sisters chicken processing business.

Boparan said on Wednesday it now holds or has agreed to acquire 34.4% of Northern Foods’ shares after 23% of Northern’s shareholders accepted the offer.

Greencore said: “Greencore confirms it is still considering its options in relation to Northern Foods and a further announcement will be made in due course.”

Northern has 14 sites in the UK and employs 9,000 people, while Greencore has around 7,000 staff and 17 manufacturing facilities in the UK, including a large sandwich-making site at Manton Wood, Worksop.

Boparan has 12 manufacturing sites in the UK and eight in Europe, with an approximate total of 6,000 employees.

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