Belfast Telegraph

New owners for sauce brands

By Greame Evans

Unilever sauce brands Chicken Tonight and Ragu are under new ownership after a UK deal with the maker of Aunt Bessie's gravy and Golden Wonder noodles.

Leeds-based Symington's, which also makes Crosse & Blackwell cooking sauces and Campbell's cup soups, said the acquisition of the two brands in the UK and Ireland was the most significant in its 180-year history.

Both brands will receive packaging and product overhauls in a bid to reverse declining sales seen over the last few years.

Ragu was the first pasta sauce brand to hit the shelves in 1988, while Chicken Tonight became well known for its quirky advertising campaign and jingle.

Chief executive David Salkeld said: "We have a proven track record of taking on heritage brands, rejuvenating them and introducing new product developments."

The acquisition for an undisclosed sum is expected to take Symington's annual sales to around £150m.

Ragu and Chicken Tonight will remain under Unilever's ownership in all other markets in which it is currently sold. The deal follows Unilever's strategic review of the two brands in the UK and Ireland, which began in June 2010.