According to financial-markets news publication Debtwire, the Japanese conglomerate has appointed M&A advisers at Houlihan Lokey to handle a sale process.
Approached by Just Food, a spokesperson for Mitsubishi said “no decision” had been made on Princes. Asked if Mitsubishi had hired bankers to oversee a potential sale, the spokesperson declined to comment. Referring to Mitsubishi as a whole, he added: “We are always looking to seek opportunities to grow the company.”
Mitsubishi acquired Liverpool-based Princes in 1989. At that time, Princes focused on the import and distribution of shelf-stable food. The company’s product range now also includes Edible Oils and beverages.
In the year to 31 March 2022, Princes generated revenue of GBP1.44bn (US$1.76bn), down 8% on the previous 12 months, according to a filing with the UK’s Companies House made last week. Princes said it was lapping “an exceptional increase” in revenue booked the year earlier when Covid-19 boosted demand.
Operating profit stood at GBP37.4m, versus GBP47.5m the year before. Profit for the year attributable to the owners of the company halved, falling from GBP34.8m to GBP17.2m. Princes pointed to lower sales volumes, higher tax expenses and a boost to the previous year’s profits from an asset sale.
Princes has two food factories and three beverage production sites in the UK. The company also has a tomato-processing facility in Italy and a tuna-processing site in Mauritius. During the year to the end of March, the company employed, on average, 6,977 full-time staff.
Among Princes’ assets are shares in Edible Oils, a UK-based supplier of bottled edible oils. Princes co-owns the business through a joint venture with agri-food group ADM. Edible Oils has three production facilities.
Asked to comment on the Debtwire report, a spokesperson for Princes said: “Princes does not respond to market speculation suffice to say that in the normal course of business, we routinely seek to identify growth and investment strategies. No decisions have been taken.”
Houlihan Lokey declined to comment.