The purchase included the cheese maker’s two sites in Hawes and Kirkby Malzeard, which employed about 210 members of staff between them. Wensleydale will join Saputo’s Dairy Division under its Europe Sector.
Commenting on the acquisition, Saputo chair and chief executive officer said: “Wensleydale Dairy Products is home to an immense amount of passion, care, and tradition.”
“Not only is it a well-established British business with high-quality products and award-winning cheeses, but our corporate cultures are well-aligned, and I’m delighted to welcome the entire team into the Saputo family.”
Saputo began to make a name for itself in the UK after it acquired Dairy Crest in 2019 for £975m and his since gone on to expand its reach within the dairy sector.
Most recently, the Canadian firm purchased vegan cheese maker Bute Island Foods for an undisclosed sum and has pledged £2.9m of investment over five years to support community initiatives local to the business.
The acquisition of Wensleydale will add a number of regional cheeses – including the protected geographical indicated cheese of its namesake – to Saputo’s portfolio, as well as the Yorkshire dairy’s network of 40 local farms and novel cheesemaking starter cultures.
A spokesperson for Wensleydale added: “The shareholders and directors of Wensleydale Dairy Products are delighted to be able to announce this sale. Following the creation of the business in 1992 we are immensely proud of the journey over the last 29 years and would like to express our gratitude to all of the staff – many of whom have been with us throughout its existence.
“We are now equally proud to be handing over the reins to Saputo, and are confident that they will continue to build upon the legacy built by, our sadly departed, former managing director David Hartley.”
Subject to UK regulatory requirements, the transaction is expected to close in the second half of July 2021.
Meanwhile, Morrisons faces a potential bidding war after Apollo Global Management announced it was considering a bid following the retailer’s announcement that it had approved an offer led by US-based Fortress Investment Group.