Biscuit giants - with bases in Blackpool and Kirkham - in 'merger talks'

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The owner of Maryland Cookies and Wagon Wheels is locked in talks over a potential merger with Fox's Biscuits, according to reports.

Burton's Biscuit Company, which has a factory off Devonshire Road in Blackpool, is said to be exploring a tie-up with Fox's, which makes biscuits in Kirkham, in a move that could see the combined firm float on the London Stock Exchange, Sky News revealed.

Sources told the broadcaster that Clive Sharpe, the ex-boss of British snack firm Golden Wonder, has been pinpointed as a potential chief executive for the firm.

Fox's Biscuits is owned by Boparan Holdings, which has been grappling with the fallout from a string of alleged health and safety breaches linked to its food manufacturing business 2 Sisters.

An undercover reporter working at a West Midlands site of 2 Sisters Food Group claimed to witness workers tampering with slaughter dates and mixing meat of different ages.

Source codes on crates of meat were also changed, the investigation by ITV News and The Guardian claimed.

Burton's also has manufacturing plants in Llantarnam and Edinburgh, employing around 2,000 people.

Fox's, which dates back more than 160 years, also makes biscuits in West Yorkshire and Uttoxeter.

It comes after McVitie's and Jacob's owner Yildiz Holding launched the global confectionery and biscuit company pladis last year by combining United Biscuits, Godiva Chocolatier, Ulker and DeMet's Candy Company.

Yildiz plans to float the firm on the London Stock Exchange by 2020.