French company buys Aberystwyth dairy firm Rachel's

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A Rachel's yogurt
Image caption,
Rachel's is sold in supermarkets throughout the UK

A dairy company known for its organic yogurts has been sold by its American owners to a rival French firm.

Rachel's, based in Aberystwyth, has been bought by Groupe Lactalis, a subsidiary of BSA International.

Former owners Dean Foods said it remained "business as usual" at Rachel's, which is understood to employ about 140 people.

Speculation about the future of the company first emerged last month.

A spokeswoman for Dean Foods said: "Certain subsidiaries of Dean Foods and B.S.A. International, S.A., a company under common control with Groupe Lactalis, have entered into an agreement in which B.S.A. International will acquire Dean Foods' Rachel's United Kingdom business.

"Rachel's is a premium yogurt brand which carries with it a rich history and strong brand equity as the second largest organic dairy brand in the UK.

"The terms of the agreement are not being disclosed.

"This transaction allows Dean Foods to grow the core elements of its portfolio that will yield the greatest return for shareholders.

"It remains business as usual at Rachel's at this time."

Rachel's is one of the largest private sector employers in Aberystwyth, but it can trace its origins back to Brynllys Farm in the nearby village of Borth.

Company founders Gareth and Rachel Rowlands saw their brand go from strength to strength after they started producing organic products in the 1980s.

After moving to a purpose-built factory in Aberystwyth, it was sold to Horizon in 1999 and then it was bought by Dean Foods, of Dallas, Texas.

Ceredigion AM Elin Jones welcomed the sale but said she would be seeking an early meeting with the dairy's new owners.

"I will now be looking for an early meeting with the new owners in order to establish their plans for continued yogurt production at the Aberystwyth site," she said.

"My expectation at this point is that the new company is committed to Aberystwyth and Wales."

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