Clipper Teas, the organic and Fairtrade hot drinks supplier, is to be sold off, it is understood.
Clipper's founders Lorraine and Michael Brehme had received 10 bids and were whittling these down to a shortlist of five, a source close to the company said. It was thought that nine of the interested parties were venture capitalists and one a trade buyer.
The company, which manufactures tea, coffee and hot chocolate at Beaminster, is expected to sell for between £15m and £30m. Founded in 1984, Clipper was the first tea company to be awarded the Fairtrade mark in the UK, in 1994. Clipper declined to comment.