Just Love Food Company, a UK business manufacturing free-from celebration cakes for the country’s major supermarkets, has completed a management buyout.
Mike Woods, who founded Just Love Food in 2009, has bought out existing shareholders after receiving a GBP750,000 (US$1.04m) loan and equity-funding package from the Development Bank of Wales, which will now hold a 30% stake in the company based in the South Wales town of Blackwood in Caerphilly.
Meanwhile, three new private investors with food industry backgrounds – George Adams, Chris Smith and Tom Carroll – have taken a combined 22% interest in the business, which currently has a turnover of GBP3.8m and employs 70 people.
Adams and Smith were previously chairman and managing director, respectively, of Marshfield Bakery, a UK maker of snacks such as shortbreads and flapjacks. Carroll is a former chief operating officer of consumer-goods giant Unilever.
Just Love Food produces cakes that are free-from nuts, gluten and milk, and has recently entered the vegan space with egg-free celebration cakes, including an ‘Archie’ caterpillar cake. The company was part of the 2019 incubator programme run by Tesco, which it now supplies, along with Sainsbury, Morrisons and Asda.
Managing director Woods said: “When my daughter Danika was first diagnosed with a severe nut allergy at four years old, times were different. There was a lot of ignorance and less awareness about allergies, and it was difficult. As a family we were all tested, and six months later, we found out that my son Rourke had the same reaction.”
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The company secured the recent funding for the buyout through the Wales Management Succession Fund, which is financed by the Welsh government and the Clwyd Pension Fund in support of management teams seeking to run and own their businesses.
Ruby Harcombe, an investment executive at the Development Bank of Wales, said: “Just Love Food Company is a pioneering manufacturer of dietary and lifestyle-specific products with an excellent shelf-presence with the leading supermarkets. As developers of first-to-market celebration cakes, they’re meeting the requirements of the modern consumer at a time when we are all increasingly conscious of nutrition and healthy living.
“Mike and the team have got some really exciting growth plans that we’ll be facilitating with the mix of funding that we have provided from our Wales Management Succession Fund. We’re looking forward to working alongside the team and our co-investors as industry specialists.”