Nichols Foods has returned to private ownership after brothers Gary and Ian Unsworth led a £12.7m management buy-out of the company from Nichols.

The deal includes Nichols Foods’ contract packing business Stockpack. Following the agreement, Ian Unsworth, who joins from outside the business, has become commercial director of Nichols Foods and Gary Unsworth becomes managing director. He was previously group managing director of Nichols. His wife has become HR manager.

Nichols Foods was originally founded by the Unsworth family in 1981 before being sold to Nichols in a previous management buy-out in 1986.

Gary Unsworth said Nichols Foods would maintain contracts with retailers and suppliers in the wake of the buy-out. The company makes a range of hot and cold beverages for foodservice, vending and retail sectors. Its products include Galaxy and Maltesers hot chocolate drinks and Milkyway Shake it! cold milkshake and mousse.

Gary Unsworth said: “I don’t foresee any changes to contracts with customers or suppliers. On the whole, they have been very pleased and see the transition from public to private as positive.”