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GSK sells drinks brands to Japanese firm in £1.35bn deal
THE company behind Lucozade and Ribena has sold the brands for £1.35bn.
GlaxoSmithKline, which has a factory specialising in skin and dermatological products in Barnard Castle, County Durham, has sold the products to Suntory Beverage and Food as it looks to expand in the healthcare sector.
Suntory already owns drinks firm Orangina Schweppes, and bosses say the Lucozade deal, which is the UK's top-selling energy drink, will allow it to move into new markets.
Lucozade was invented by Newcastle chemist William Walker Hunter in 1827, and was originally called Glucozade as he tried to produce a glucose drink to aid his daughter's recovery from jaundice.
For 11 years, Hunter's formula was a North-East secret until Beecham's bought the chemist out and promoted it with the advertising line: “Get Lucozade, it is so energising and palatable.”
The drink, which is backed by £86m Real Madrid footballer Gareth Bale in the firm's latest advertising campaign, is made in GlaxoSmithKline's Gloucestershire factory, which employs about 500 staff.
Bosses say the majority of its staff will move to Suntory.
David Redfern, GlaxoSmithKline chief strategy officer, said: “Now is the right time to sell as we increase the focus of our consumer healthcare business.”
The company's Barnard Castle plant is its skin division headquarters and employs about 1,150 workers.
It recently spent £20m to create a dermatology centre of excellence on the site.
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