Texas-based Dean Foods Company has agreed to buy the manufacturing and retail ice cream business of Friendly’s Ice Cream, LLC for $155 million.

Dean Foods will continue to produce Friendly’s ice cream out of the Wilbraham, MA facility which has produced the company’s popular packaged ice cream, frozen dessert products and ice cream for Friendly's restaurants for more than 45 years. Friendly's Ice Cream, with net sales of $166 million in 2015, distributes products in over 8,000 retail locations across the US and has seen 105 percent growth in the retail business over the past five years.

Friendly's, which operates more than 260 locations in the US, will continue to be owned by an affiliate of Sun Capital Partners, Inc.  Friendly's existing senior restaurant management team will continue to lead the restaurant business. In addition to acquiring Friendly's manufacturing and retail ice cream business, Dean Foods will acquire the Friendly's trademark as well as all intellectual property associated with the ice cream business.

Friendly's Ice Cream was started in 1935 in Springfield, MA by brothers Curtis and Prestley Blake at the height of the Great Depression. Products are made from high quality ingredients with an emphasis on innovative flavors and unique formulations and packaging.

“We are thrilled at the prospects the Friendly's Ice Cream acquisition brings to Dean Foods,” says Gregg Tanner, CEO of Dean Foods. “Coupled with the momentum of Dean Foods’ current regional brands, the Friendly’s brand will be a catalyst in our strategy to grow our existing ice cream business and branded portfolio. Friendly's is an ideal complement to our other heritage brands across the country and fills a manufacturing and retail ice cream void in our nationwide footprint."

The transaction is expected to close late in the second quarter of 2016, subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions.