The boards of the two companies are understood to be locked in a meeting this afternoon (May 30) to talk through the initial implications of the move.
Aimia’s existing management team is expected to be retained to steer the future direction of the business. The transaction includes an $80M immediate cash payment, plus $33M (£19.7M) in deferred consideration payable in September 2014 and a further sum dependent on Aimia Foods’s financial performance.
Cott said Aimia would give it access to categories new to it, including hot chocolate, coffee, malt drinks, creamers, whiteners and cereals. It would enable it to grow business in vending, foodservice and wholesale, it added.
Aimia would also offer it the ability to explore new packaging formats, including pouches, jars, in-cup products and sachets, said Cott.
“We firmly believe that bringing Aimia Foods into the Cott family will provide additional opportunities for the benefit of employees and customers alike,” Aimia md Rob Unsworth said in a statement.
“Our leadership team is excited to work with Cott to keep building on the strong foundation already established.”
Cott ceo Jerry Fowden said: “The Aimia Foods acquisition accelerates our diversification strategy, bringing a strong hot and cold beverage platform and multiple foodservice relationships into our portfolio.
“Aimia has extensive expertise in new product categories, packaging formats and trade channels, such as the packaging of powdered beverages, which we believe enhances the diversification opportunities available to the combined businesses.
“Aimia’s core strengths lie in the manufacturing, sale and marketing of Aimia-owned and third-party licensed beverage brands across all sectors of the UK market, including foodservice, vending, cash & carry and retail.”
The deal allowed Cott to build on plans to expand activities outside of carbonated soft drinks and shelf-stable juices, it said.
Speaking to FoodManufacture.co.uk in January, Unsworth said Aimia had grown employee numbers from 250 to 300 in the past year and aimed to boost that to 400 within three to five years. It clocked up sales of £58M in the year to June 2013 and he said he hoped that figure would reach £70M by the end of the current financial year.
At the time, Unsworth said the firm was investing millions in processing, covering facilities such as a new high-speed, highly automated cereal line installed in September last year. Aimia Foods was also investing in a new pouch line and a new glass line for own-label coffee, which would be a major growth area for the business, he said.
Aimia Foods makes branded products for a wide variety of customers under licence, including Mars, Galaxy, Maltesers and WeightWatchers hot chocolate and No Fear Extreme Energy Drink.
Other North American deals in the past six months include US-based firm Gores Group investing £30M for a 51% stake in Premier Foods’s Hovis business and US Chiquita Brands International acquiring Dublin-based fresh produce wholesaler Fyffes.
Cott has 4,000 employees, manufacturing bases in the US, Canada, the UK and Mexico and posted net revenue of $2.09bn (£1.25bn) in the year to December 28 2013. It acquired UK business Macaw Soft Drinks in 2005.