Acquisition-hungry Humble adds UK's Solent Group to catalogue
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Acquisition-hungry Humble adds UK’s Solent Group to catalogue

By Simon Harvey 24 Sep 2021 (Last Updated September 24th, 2021 09:31)

Sweden's Humble Group has also announced six other unnamed European deals are in the pipeline.

Acquisition-hungry Humble adds UK’s Solent Group to catalogue

Humble Group, the acquisition-hungry Swedish business, has reached an agreement to add snacks and household goods maker Solent Group to its stable of food, beauty and cosmetics companies.

Previously trading as Bayn Group until earlier this year, Humble said the transaction price is SEK1.4bn (US$162.1m), consisting of a fixed purchase price of SEK968.4m and a deferred compensation payment of SEK91.1m, noting the Swedish krona amounts have been recalculated from British pounds.

Solent, based in the town of Christchurch, Dorset, on the south coast of England, produces branded snacks, confectionery and Mediterranean baked goods for the retail channel, and also manufactures products under license and for private-label clients. As well as food and household goods, the company is present in personal care, another key business area for publicly-listed Humble.

The UK firm, led by CEO Ashley Symonds, also has operations in China, Hong Kong, South Africa, Vietnam and Australia, reflected in its Asian-style snacks such as prawn crackers and crisps under the Three Tigers brand name. Around half of its employees are based in the UK.

Solent supplies major UK retailers such as Tesco, Morrisons and Asda, along with Marks & Spencer, Waitrose, Costco and The Co-op. In the year ended in June, the company posted revenues equivalent to SEK963m and an adjusted EBITDA of SEK141m. For the current financial year, the business forecasts revenues and EBITDA of SEK1.15bn and SEK158m, respectively.

Simon Petrén, the CEO of Humble, which had already completed 13 M&A deals in the first half of 2021, said: “The transaction opens both the UK and several key international markets around the world by adding many new points of sale to grow exports for Humble’s other brands.

“Through the acquisition of Solent, we acquire a high-quality company with strong profitability as well as a high-performing and entrepreneurial team.”

In a separate announcement to the Solent deal, Humble said its board has cleared six other acquisition proposals in Europe and to “enter into letters of intent with the sellers of the companies”.

The target names, type of business and category areas were not disclosed. “Following the execution of the letters of intent, Humble will carry out customary legal, financial and tax due diligence reviews of the companies as well as negotiating the terms in the share purchase agreements,” it said.

In the statement revealing the Solent agreement, Petrén said: “The M&A pipeline looks very strong and we are well prepared to continue scaling Humble rapidly. It is with great pleasure that we welcome Solent and the team to Humble.”

Solent’s founder Richard Porter added: “I am delighted to announce the exciting development of our merger with Humble Group. This exciting new chapter accelerates our growth ambition to become a market leader in our personal care and beauty, homecare and food categories with the aim of creating a GBP1bn (US$1.3bn) market share by 2025.”

Solent’s product line-up also includes free-from and no-added sugar chocolate and snacks such as pretzels.

Prior to conducting the latest M&A, Humble’s deals ranged from sugar-free confectionery to spices and sports nutrition products, while other transactions were struck in the areas of cosmetics, beauty and environmentally-friendly nappies, or diapers.

Among the 13 companies acquired in the first half, transactions in the food area featured the Swedish companies: ingredients business Ewalco, sugar-free confectioner Wellibites, and Nordfood and Be:Son Gross, both importers and distributors of FMCG products.

It announced five deals in April of this year: Grahns Konfektyr (reduced-sugar sweets), Kryddhuset I Ljung (spices), and in sports nutrition, Performance R US, Nordic Sports Nutrition and Viterna.

Germany’s Marabu, Fancystage Unipessoal in Portugal, and Naty in Sweden featured outside of food.