Saputo, the privately owned Canadian dairy company, has completed its £975m (€1.1bn) acquisition of Dairy Crest, the UK dairy processor based in the southeast of England. The Canadian dairy giant confirmed on Tuesday it had acquired all of the ordinary share capital in Dairy Crest, after shareholders had accepted Saputo’s offer of £6.20 per share, which represented a 12% premium on Dairy Crest’s recent share price.

Saputo is one of the 10 largest dairy companies in the world with annual sales of €8bn and profits of €845m. Buying the Dairy Crest business will be Saputo’s first move into the UK dairy sector and will give the Canadian giant an instant foothold in the UK market.

Dairy giant

Dairy Crest is one of the largest dairy companies in the UK and owns some of the best known premium butter and cheese brands in the UK retail market, including Cathedral City cheese, Country Life butter and Clover butter. The company also owns the Frylight cooking oils brand.

The Cathedral City cheddar brand is the UK’s 16th largest grocery brand, and accounts for more than 50% of branded cheddar sales in the UK. Almost 60% of UK households buy the product each year.

Dairy Crest recently announced plans to invest £75m (€86m) to expand cheddar capacity by 40% at its Davidstow Creamery in North Cornwall. This will see it add 23,000t of cheddar production to its current 54,000t capacity and allow the group to process an extra 200m litres of milk.