Both brands will be redeveloped by Symington’s which plans to overhaul the packaging and products to create “real alternatives … that perform as challenger brands” to the market leaders in the cooking sauce category.
Symington’s plans to increase the quality of Ragu and emphasise its Italian American heritage and invest in new product development for Chicken Tonight.
Both brands have been in decline following a shift in strategy at Unilever, according to Symington’s.
Unilever says in a statement: “We are confident that both these brands will have a successful future under the stewardship of Symington’s.”
A Unilever spokesman added that the brands “weren’t receiving the necessary investment they required within [Unilever’s] large portfolio” .
The disposal only affects Ragu and Chicken Tonight in the UK and Ireland – the brands will remain under Unilever’s ownership in all other markets.
It is the biggest acquisition Symington’s, which also owns the Aunt Bessie’s, Campbell’s and Golden Wonder food brands, has ever made.
The company says the new brands will bring its annual sales to around £150m. The combined turnover of Ragu and Chicken Tonight in the UK and Ireland last year was around £20m.