Ireland-based Lakeland Dairies has acquired Northern Ireland firm Pritchitts' Foods in a £13 million (€18.6m) deal. The newly merged business will be the largest UHT supplier to the UK service market.
Lakeland Dairies has been acquiring new businesses at a rapid rate. In the past 18 months the business has bought the Bailieboro dairy business from the Kerry Group and the Omagh dairy business from Nestlé.
These acquisitions come on the back of a highly successful year. In 2002 the company's earnings surged by more than 500 per cent after it sold shares it owned in food and agri-business group IAWS.
Lakeland Dairies also posted pre-tax profits of €28.2 million.
Commenting on the acquisition, Ed Prendergast, Lakeland Dairies' chief executive, said that it would greatly expand the company's range of products and increase market penetration.
"We have always held Pritchitts' brands in the highest regard and consequently we will be eager to retain these to drive and expand our sales in the UK and abroad," he said.
Lakeland Diaries supplies milks, creams, dairy whipping creams, non-dairy creams, ice cream, milk shake mixes and other long-life dairy products. The company believes that the acquisition of Pritchitts' Foods will strengthen its position in the UK dairy market.