Blog: Dean BestH&B looks to future

Dean Best | 28 April 2009

Following the announcement yesterday (27 April) of the management buyout of speciality cheese company H&B Foods, it was interesting to talk to one of its founders, Jonnie Archer, on the company’s prospects.

The company will emerge from the deal in “decent” financial shape, Archer said.

H&B currently has debt of GBP3m (US$4.4m) on the books and, between the management team – consisting of Archer, Nick Martin and Simon Yorke - and Straumur Burdaras Investment Bank, some GBP9m will be invested in the venture.

The company’s business is spread across a wide range of customers – from upmarket independents Harrods and Selfridges to airlines – meaning that it is somewhat cushioned if one sector is hit by the economic slowdown, Archer said.

And, because it doesn’t deal with any of the UK’s multiples, it has not felt any negative affects from the tendency among supermarkets to focus on value at the expense of premium products.

Nevertheless, Archer ruled out the possibility that the group would be looking to expand through acquisitions or any major capital investment.

“Our attitude now is back to basics for the next six to 12 months. We will be focusing on our core values – speciality cheeses,” he said.

While H&B plans to keep its head down and weather the current economic storm, it will nevertheless continue investing in innovation and new products in order to keep its product offering fresh, Archer highlighted.

So, now that the group is back in the hands of its founders, it looks like we can expect more of the same from this high-end dairy and speciality food group.

Katy Humphries, deputy editor


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