UK-based Dairy Crest has signalled its European ambitions after agreeing to the principle purchase of European spread business St Hubert from Uniq.
The €370 million (£248 million) deal will see the dairy products firm acquire a range of margarine brands in France and Italy.
St Hubert has a market share of 31 per cent in France and enjoyed sales of €93.5 million (£62.7 million) in the last financial year, with a Dairy Crest company statement today saying that it wanted to reap the benefits of an operational and commercial linkup between its proposed acquisition and its existing brands.
In a joint statement, outgoing chief executive Drummond Hall and his elected successor Mark Allen said: "We believe that St Hubert is a strong business with a 100 per cent branded portfolio in a sector that we know and understand well. The acquisition significantly increases the proportion of our profits coming from brands and as a result it improves the overall quality of our earnings.
"In addition the move into continental Europe should provide opportunities for future growth."
News of today's proposed deal comes as Dairy Crest announced a 25 per cent rise in half-year profits before tax to £31.8 million, with the firm hailing the strong performance of individual brands Cathedral City, Country Life and Frijj.
"Dairy Crest has delivered strong profit growth in the first half, which together with our recent corporate activity gives us a sound platform for the rest of the year," concluded Mr Hall.