9Bar owner Wholebake enjoying healthy sales

9Bar owner Wholebake enjoying healthy sales

A "controlling" stake in UK snacks manufacturer Wholebake has been sold to investment fund Bridges Ventures.

The deal, struck for an undisclosed sum, will give Wholebake the resources to grow, add capacity and create "at least" 60 jobs over the next five years, the fund said today (28 July).

Wholebake owns the 9Bar brand, which has listings at Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury's and Morrisons, and the business co-packs for other brands. It generated sales of GBP11m (US$18.7m) in the year to the end of March. Sales have grown 50% in the current financial year to date, Bridges Ventures said.

Mark Gould and operations director Richard Shaw acquired the business in 2011 from founder and majority shareholder Steve Jones after he decided to retire.

Gould and Shaw will stay with Wholebake and work with Oliver Wyncoll, a partner at Bridges Ventures.

Wyncoll spent 11 years as a partner at Langholm Capital, where he worked with UK businesses including Dorset Cereals and crisp maker Tyrrells.

Reflecting on Wholebake, he said: "These natural products are bang on trend with consumer demand for great tasting, higher protein, gluten-free snacking. With our investment, we hope to widen the strong and loyal following that 9Bar has developed and open-up new sales channels."

Former Dorset Cereals CEO Peter Farquhar has been appointed to the Wholebake board to help drive grow the company's distribution. 

Jaclyn Kelly, the former FD at UK fruit loaf business Soreen, has joined Wholebake as CFO.

The deal also provides an exit for Finance Wales, which backed Gould and Shaw in their acquisition of Wholebake three years ago. Finance Wales is an investment fund and agency of the Welsh government.