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5 May, 2006 - 12:39 By Staff Reporter

Hain Celestial buys food business

Hain Celestial has acquired the fresh prepared foods business of HJ Heinz in Luton to underpin it’s European growth plans.Hain Celestial has acquired the fresh prepared foods business of HJ Heinz in Luton to underpin it’s European growth plans.

The Luton site, bought for an undisclosed sum, generated approximately £30 million for Heinz in 2005 but the firm famous for its ketchup and 57 Varieties series considers it to be a non-core asset.

Irwin Simon, president and chief executive officer (CEO) of New York-based Hain Celestial, said: “The Luton-based fresh prepared foods operation will provide us with a strong foothold and a full infrastructure in the United Kingdom, from which we can grow operations and product distribution.

“As we expand our European business with fresh prepared foods and natural and organic products including non-dairy beverages, tea, grocery and snacks products, we look to streamline this business to focus on our core strategy and to divest those businesses that do not complement our growth plan.”

Headquartered in New York, Hain Celestial is a leading natural and organic food and personal care products company, which participates in almost all natural food categories.

The transaction is expected to be accretive to the earnings of Hain Celestial during its fiscal year 2007. During its fiscal year ended June 30, 2005, Hain Celestial Europe generated $84m (£45.5m) in sales.

David Arrow has been appointed managing director of Hain Celestial United Kingdom and will report to Philippe Woitrin, CEO of Hain Celestial Europe. Arrow is a seasoned veteran of the UK food industry and most recently led the successful turnaround of Cauldron Foods, which was ultimately acquired by Premier Foods in late 2005.

Heinz has been refocusing its European business and in March, the UK Competition Commission cleared its acquisition of HP Foods Group, allowing the company to integrate brands such as Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce and HP sauces.

Heinz chairman, president and CEO, William Johnson, said: “We are nearing the completion of the portfolio transformation in Europe.

“Our European business is now a leaner and more focused portfolio and we will be growing the retained core businesses with product and packaging innovation.”

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