EUROPE’S largest own-label ice cream maker has bought an Australian rival in a £250m deal to strengthen its international standing.

R&R Ice Cream, in Leeming Bar, near Bedale, North Yorkshire, has acquired Peters Food Group.

The firm, which employs about 450 workers, say the move will increase its European presence and open up one of the world’s largest ice cream markets.

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Bosses have not revealed the deal’s value, though reports previously suggested Peters’ owner, Pacific Equity Partners (PEP), was planning a £247m sale.

Peters, founded in 1907, is one of Australia’s oldest food businesses and has used cricketing great Sir Donald Bradman and rock band Kiss to advertise its products in the past.

Its ice cream range includes Billa Bong chocolate treats, Lifesavers fruity pops, the Monaco Bar ice cream sandwich and the gourmet Connoisseur range, and it will continue production at its plant in Victoria, Australia.

R&R Ice Cream, which was last year taken over by private equity firm PAI Partners, makes frozen treats under Nestlé and Mondelez brands, such as Cadbury’s Dairy Milk and Oreo, as well as Disney and Kelly’s of Cornwall ices.

Ibrahim Najafi, R&R ice cream’s chief executive, said it would invest in Peters to develop the business globally as well as Down Under.

He said: “We are delighted to have come to an agreement with Peters and PEP.

“Peters is an iconic Australian business and the leader in the country’s ice cream manufacturing market.

“It will be an exciting complement to our European presence.”

Stephen Audsley, Peters’ chief executive, added: “We remain a proudly Australian company.

“With the backing of R&R, we will continue to invest in our market-leading brands, such as Connoisseur, and our long history of innovation.

“Work will continue in our Australian factory and we intend to create more growth.”

Founded in 1985, R&R is Europe’s second largest ice cream maker.

Last year, it finalised a £49m deal to buy Fredericks Dairies after the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) gave clearance.

Fredericks, in Skelmersdale, Lancashire, held licences to make ice cream and refreshments for Cadbury, Del Monte and Britvic.

OFT bosses had assessed whether it would reduce competition.