Private equity group Langholm Capital has bought a majority stake in upmarket UK crisp maker Tyrrells.

The deal, which will see Tyrrells founder Will Chase retain a "significant stake" in the business, values the company at around GBP40m (US$79.5m).

Les Sayers, managing director of M&J Seafood, a division of UK food distribution business Brake Brothers, will join Tyrrells as CEO.

Industry watchers have speculated that an injection of capital would allow Tyrrells to boost production. The group recently refused to supply Tesco as it was believed that it would be unable to meet demand.

"We are certainly meeting current demand," a Tyrrells spokesperson told just-food today (14 April). "But we can't confirm either way whether we are looking to increase production."

Langholm specialises in mid-market buyouts. It was the private equity group behind the acquisition of UK muesli business Dorset Cereals in 2005, which it sold on last month for GBP50m, netting a four-fold return on its investment.

Commenting on the deal, Chase said that he believed the partnership with Langholm would aid the brand's growth.

"I am delighted to partner with Langholm Capital, whose experience of building fast growth brands, like Dorset Cereals, will be invaluable to Les and the team in the next phase of Tyrrells' development," he said.

Last year Tyrrells booked annual sales of GBP13m.