Ferrero is on the verge of acquiring UK cereal bars, muesli and granola business Eat Natural with the Italy-headquartered confectionery major pledging to take the company into new markets.
The Kinder chocolate brand owner said it has entered a definitive agreement to purchase Eat Natural for an undisclosed sum, hot on the heels of a deal for the bulk of UK business Fox’s Biscuits announced in October.
Ferrero said the acquisition of Eat Natural is expected to close in the “next months” subject to regulatory approvals.
Eat Natural was founded in the late 1990s by Preet Grewal and Praveen Vijh and is present in all major UK retailers. A company spokesperson told just-food the business generates annual sales of around GBP45m (US$61.2m) and exports to about 25 countries.
Co-founder Vijh said: “Ferrero is a fabulous company and we are proud that they would like us to be part of their family. We have many shared ethics and both have a vision to make healthier snacking available for everyone.”
Management will be retained by Ferrero and the employees at Eat Natural’s plant in Halstead, Essex, in east England.
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Giovanni Ferrero, the executive chairman of Ferrero, said the deal for Eat Natural will expand the confectioner’s footprint in the “healthier snacking market”. Ferrero CEO Lapo Civiletti claimed Eat Natural holds “a very strong market position” in the sector “fulfilling the evolving needs and trends of consumers”.
In the UK, Ferrero markets spread brand Nutella and its range of confectionery including Kinder, Thorntons, Tic Tac and Ferrero Rocher.
The deal for the Fox's assets was made through CTH, a holding company fully owned by Mr Ferrero. Last summer, CTH snapped up Denmark-based snacks business Kelsen, owner of brands including Kjeldsens Butter Cookies, from Campbell Soup Co. for US$300m. Four years ago, CTH acquired Belgian biscuits business Delacre.
In April last year, Ferrero struck a deal to buy a clutch of biscuit and snack brands in the US from Kellogg for US$1.3bn. That purchase followed a series of acquisitions by Ferrero in North America in the previous two years.