CottonBottoms, the family-run reusable nappy company, has been bought for an undisclosed sum by Jackel International, the firm behind the Tommee Tippee brand of baby accessories.

Pulborough-based CottonBottoms has become a familiar name as the first "real nappy" brand on the High Street - selling in Boots, John Lewis, Woolworths Big W and some Co-op stores.

The company, founded by environmentalist Joanne Freer, pioneered an easy-to-use nappy for washing and an expanding chain of franchised nappy laundries which deliver to the door.

It has successfully heightened awareness of the environmental benefits of using real nappies through its educational work and strong links with Government, the NHS and the Environment Agency. It also supplies real nappies to maternity units and day nurseries across the country.

Mrs Freer said she was delighted CottonBottoms had reached the mainstream market and heralded the takeover as an endorsement of the company.

She said: "As the UK's top cotton nappy brand, we have been the first to bring ethically-produced real nappies to the High Street, putting the environment firmly on the 'want' list for many parents as they plan for their babies."

She will continue to work at CottonBottoms, having responsibility for making sure future expansion and marketing opportunities are exploited to the full.

Tommee Tippee is the UK's longest-established baby accessories brand with a range of award-winning pregnancy and childcare products.

Jackel International, which is based in the North-East, is part of the Mayborn Group - famous for its Dylon fabric dyes business.

Ann Hunter-Love, managing director of Jackel International, said: "We are absolutely delighted to have acquired CottonBottoms with its strong ethical stance.

"The reusable nappy market is growing at a fast pace and we know more and more young mothers are opting to try them as they feel a responsibility towards the environment."

CottomBottoms, which was set up in 1997 when Mrs Freer was on maternity leave, has franchises in Edinburgh, the Forth Valley, Aberdeenshire, London, Sussex, Surrey, Hampshire, Devon, Dorset and Gloucestershire.