Food and confectionery giant Mars has announced it will buy ailing UK chocolate business Hotel Chocolat in a deal worth about £534m, with a payday of about £280m for the latter’s founders (The Financial Times £). Hotel Chocolat shares surged over 161% on Thursday after the group revealed it is being taken over by US-based Mars Incorporated in a £524m deal (The Daily Mail). Hotel Chocolat’s founders are set for a big payday as the US firm answers its pleas for the money to expand the UK brand’s international presence (Sky News).

Mars has awarded the founder of Hotel Chocolat a payout of about £30m after swooping on the UK-listed confectionery chain (The Times £). Hotel Chocolat’s founders are poised for a £280m payday after the upmarket chocolates maker agreed to a £534m takeover by the US food company Mars at a big premium to the UK firm’s market value (The Guardian). The co-founders of Hotel Chocolat will each get £144m after agreeing to sell the British business to Mars (The BBC). The son of the inventor of Mr Whippy has made his own sugar-fuelled fortune after selling Hotel Chocolat to US giant Mars in a deal worth £534m (The Telegraph £). The founders of Hotel Chocolat are set to share a £280million windfall after agreeing to sell it to Mars (The Daily Mail)

Alistair Osborne in The Times writes: “Entrepreneurial brands can sit uneasily in a large corporate as Ben & Jerry’s has proved with Unilever. And consumers can complain that big owners ruin them. But, given the price it’s paying, Mars has a clear incentive to keep Hotel Chocolat the right sort of sweet.” (The Times £)

Alex Brummer in The Mail says the deal “leaves a bad taste”, writing: “Britain has been terrific at creating organic, ethical brands with potential global reach in a greener world. But UK investors, founders or their offspring are hopeless at seeing the project through.” (The Daily Mail)

The Guardian looks at the story of Hotel Chocolat, writing: “It represents a triumph of sorts for Thirlwell and his fellow co-founder, Peter Harris. They and their family trusts still own half of the business and each founder will gain £140m apiece on completion. Thirlwell, who will stay on as chief executive, said he would re-invest in the business alongside Mars. Yet the sale is also an acknowledgment that going up against big business has its pitfalls.” (The Guardian)

Premier Foods, the maker of kitchen cupboard staples from Bird’s custard to Bisto gravy, has begun cutting prices across some of its big brands as inflation finally starts to cool (The Times £). The maker of Mr Kipling cakes, Angel Delight and Bisto gravy granules has announced price cuts on some of its ranges on the back of a fall in the rate of inflation on associated production costs (The Guardian).

Mr Kipling maker Premier Foods has raised its profit forecast and said easing costs meant it will cut prices of some popular products. (The Daily Mail)

The boss of Carlsberg’s Russian business and a top manager have been arrested after the Kremlin took control of the beer company in the country (The BBC). Russian authorities have arrested senior executives at Carlsberg’s seized subsidiary Baltika Breweries under criminal charges of fraud as the battle over the rights to the Danish brewer’s brand licences escalates (The Financial Times £)

UK pub operator Young’s has agreed to buy competitor City Pub Group, which operates 50 venues across southern England in a £162mn deal, as the sector struggles to grow in the face of high interest rates and a squeeze on consumers (The Financial Times £). The pub operator Young & Co’s Brewery has agreed a £162 million deal to snap up City Pub Group, its London-based rival (The Times £). Young’s is snapping up City Pub Group, the plush pub chain behind popular Chelsea haunt, The Phene, in a £162m deal (The Daily Mail).

A study showing that the soft drinks industry levy has brought unexpected benefits, particularly for the youngest children, is a surprise as well as a relief, writes The Guardian. Researchers in Cambridge and Glasgow examined records of tooth extractions in English hospitals, and found that they fell by 12% over the period during which the levy was introduced. (The Guardian)

Walmart shares closed 8.1% lower on Thursday after the world’s largest retailer predicted weaker consumer spending during the holiday season. (The Financial Times £)

The FT’s Lex column writes: “America’s biggest bricks-and-mortar retailer kept the tills ringing during the third quarter. Both its top and bottom lines rose at a healthy pace. That prompted it to raise its sales and profit guidance for the year. Yet the share price fell 8.1 per cent on Thursday — the equivalent of $34bn in market value. Market consensus seems to believe that this is as good as it gets for Walmart.” (The Financial Times £)

The Times’ Tempus column advises investors to hold Diageo shares following its warning over slower than expected sales last week: “Diageo has rock-solid brands with history, which is a good base for pushing into new markets. It might just cost more to achieve ambitious sales growth targets right now.” (The Times £)

Burberry’s chief executive has hit out at Rishi Sunak over the Government’s failure to reverse the controversial tourist tax that is blighting luxury retailers in Britain. (The Telegraph £)

Shop owners hope that tech can deter thieves. Retailers are taking all sorts of measures to deter shoplifters, including funding a police surveillance project, hiring undercover guards to patrol shop floors and even offering free coffees to police officers to temp them into their stores. (The BBC)

Italy has banned the production of lab-grown meat in a bid to protect its powerful agricultural industry, and traditional culinary culture. (The Financial Times £)