The Shape plant in Swindon is not part of the deal, and will be sold off next year when Danone will transfer production to its own facilities.
The deal surprised the City, which had widely tipped Nestlé to buy Shape to take on Müller as a credible number two in the market. "Danone may be a colossus in Europe, but not in the UK yogurt market," said one analyst. "It's difficult to see what it can do with a weak brand like Shape. Unless it can turn it into some sort of niche brand, or pump some innovation into it, I can't understand the logic behind the deal."
Uniq boss Bill Ronald said the deal reduced debts and offloaded a brand that was going nowhere without more investment in the Swindon site. "One of the reasons we exited was that our factory needed substantial investment for ongoing yogurt manufacturing."
Production of the St Ivel Kids brands would be transferred to another site or produced under licence by a third party.