US consumer goods giant Sara Lee has announced that it has signed an agreement to sell its US Retail Coffee business to Italy-based Segafredo Zanetti Group for US$82.5m.

In February 2005, Sara Lee identified the US Retail Coffee business, which manufactures and markets roast & ground and instant coffee products to retail customers throughout the US and Canada, as a business that would be sold as part of the company's transformation.

The transaction is expected to close by the end of December 2005, subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions. The business, which generated approximately $213m in annual sales in fiscal 2005, markets products under the Chock full o'Nuts, Hills Bros, Chase & Sanborn and MJB brands as well as various private label brands. This sale does not include Sara Lee's global Senseo brand.

"With this sale, we are pleased to mark another important step in transforming Sara Lee into a more focused, more disciplined, high-performing company," said Brenda C. Barnes, president and chief executive officer of Sara Lee. "With the on-schedule sale of our US Retail Coffee business, we are achieving another key milestone in simplifying our organization and better positioning Sara Lee to drive long-term, sustainable growth for our shareholders."