The chief executive of Grupo Bimbo said today (9 November) that the company’s acquisition of Sara Lee’s fresh bakery business in North America represented a “milestone” for the Mexican food giant.

Daniel Servitje said Bimbo’s US$959m acquisition of Sara Lee’s domestic bakery division showed the company’s “commitment and singular focus” on building a US business that provides the “highest-quality products at the best value to consumers”.

The deal, which is expected to close in the first half of next year, is Bimbo’s second bakery acquisition in the US in two years. Last January, Bimbo secured the purchase of George Weston Ltd’s bakery business in the market.

The combination of Bimbo’s US arm with Sara Lee’s North American bread operations will create a business that runs 75 plants and generates pro forma sales of $5.8bn, based on estimates for 2010.

Bringing together the two businesses is expected to lead to US$150-200m in annual cost savings by 2013, Bimbo said.

“We will immediately, upon closing, begin to improve the efficiency of this platform by investing in excess of US$1bn in bakeries, technology and infrastructure over the next five years,” said Gary Prince, president of Bimbo Bakeries USA, the Mexican group’s US arm.

Internationally, the deal will also give Bimbo a perpetual licence to the Sara Lee brand in fresh bakery in the Americas, Asia, Africa and Europe.

For its part, Sara Lee said the sale meant it could focus on its protein and coffee operations.