Northern Foods has sold its Fox’s confectionery business to Big Bear, a newly-formed food and drinks business for £9.4m including debts of £2.4m.

Fox’s - which has a polar bear rather than a fox as its logo - manufacture Fox’s Glacier Mints and Fruits, Paynes Poppets, Just Brazils and XXX Mints. The confectionery business has annual sales of around £15m.

Northern acquired the Fox’s Glacier Mints business from Nestlé UK for £8m in 2001. The company then merged with Paynes confectionery operation which it had purchased for £9.8m in 1998.

Employees at Fox’s Leicester factory will continue to work at Big Bear.