UK-based chilled foods group Bakkavor has sold its businesses in France and Spain to French co-op Agrial.

Bakkavor said today (23 November) it has reached a formal agreement with Agrial, Société Cooperative Agricole et Agro-alimentaire, a leading European food co-operative for the sale of its French and Spanish produce businesses for a debt-free cash sum of EUR33m (US$42.6m).

Agrial, which owns the Florette salad brand, has snapped up assets including French businesses Cinquième Saison Saint-Pol, Cinquième Saison Mâcon, and Bakkavör France and Spanish firms Sogesol and Crudi.

“The sale of our French and Spanish businesses marks an important step in our strategy of reshaping our portfolio to focus on our core fresh prepared markets,” said CEO Agust Gudmundsson. “The transaction will be beneficial from a leverage perspective and net proceeds will be used to reduce our term loan.”

Bakkavor announced its plans to sell the businesses earlier this month. Speaking to just-food at the time, a spokesperson for Bakkavor would not explain in detail the rationale for the sale. However, he said: “This proposed sale should be seen within the context of Bakkavor focussing strategically on its core businesses.”

Completion of the transaction is subject to competition authority clearance, which is expected by the end of the first quarter of 2013.

All employees of the businesses are expected to transfer over to Agrial with the operations.