Dairy Crest has proposed to acquire Express Dairies from Arla Foods for £33m.

The deal includes 77 Express Dairies depots, principally in the midlands and north of England, and dairies in Liverpool and Nottingham.

In the year to end 30 September 2005, the business made an operating profit before tax of £7.2m, on revenue of £229m.

Drummond Hall, outgoing CEO of Dairy Crest, said: “This deal creates the UK's leading doorstep and middle ground business. This acquisition is consistent with our successful infill strategy for our dairy business and is at a price which will deliver significant value.”

Tim Smith, chief executive of Arla Foods, added: Exiting from a declining sector of the market will enable us to direct 100% of our resources to the growth of the branded and added value elements of our business, such as Cravendale and Anchor.”