Britain's biggest food group Premier Foods is looking to sell its Hartley's jams and Haywards pickles businesses for over 200 million pounds to help meet its borrowing rules and secure the company's survival, sources with knowledge of the situation said on Monday.
The group, whose top brands include Batchelor's, Hovis and Mr. Kipling, is struggling with hefty debts after a recent acquisition spree and is looking to offload non-core food businesses as it battles with weak consumer demand in Britain.
New Chief Executive Michael Clarke is focusing the group on eight of its biggest brands, and selling off other businesses such as Hartley's and Haywards as it looks to meet an already deferred covenant test from its banks by end-March 2012.
Hartley's and Haywards are up for sale and should be sold before the covenant test comes up, but Premier seems reluctant to sell a brand like Branston because of its high profitability, said one source close to the situation.
(Reporting by David Jones; Editing by Mark Potter)