S-Ventures, an early-stage UK investment firm, has taken an controlling interest in Ohso Chocolate.

London-listed S-Ventures said it has acquired a 75.1% stake in the chocolate maker in exchange for more than 3.2 million shares in the investor company, equating to around GBP295,400 (US$416,670) based on a price of nine pence each.

Established in 2009 in Woking, Surrey, in south-east England, Ohso Chocolate adds ‘good’ bacteria probiotics to its confectionery, which is sold online and in retailers Boots and Holland & Barrett. Its founders, Andrew Marten and Liz Hallet, have been granted an option to sell their remaining 24.9% holding to S-Ventures “contingent upon the future financial performance”.

For the year ended 31 December 2020, Ohso Chocolate generated sales of GBP311,000 and had assets amounting to GBP342,000.

S-Ventures, which is also based in Surrey, said the deal was a “related party transaction” because its CEO Scott Livingston and CFO Robert Hewitt together held 50.6% of the issued share capital in Ohso Chocolate before the deal was struck. After the current transaction, Livingston’s “beneficial interest” in the business will rise from 56.8% to 57.3%, while Hewitt’s interest will fall to 2.9% from 2.93%.

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By GlobalData

Ohso Chocolate uses sustainably-sourced cocoa, offering milk and dark chocolate bars with no added sugar. Marten will remain its managing director while all employees will be retained.

S-Ventures chairman David Mitchell said in a statement: "We are delighted to have acquired our stake in Ohso Chocolate and we very much look forward to working with Andrew and the team. The product has achieved great results and progress but together we believe we can grow faster and exploit opportunities more effectively in the healthy probiotic space."

With investment in hand, Ohso Chocolate will seek to expand its range into new products and "consider partnering opportunities with other major brands to utilise its technology".

The S-Ventures portfolio also includes UK-based plantain chip brand We Love Purely and juice-and-smoothie business Coldpress. S-Ventures snapped up a majority stake in We Love Purely last month and first invested in Coldpress last autumn.

The company was set up last year as a vehicle to invest in and acquire companies "in the wellness, organic food and wellbeing sectors", according to its listing document. Trading in S-Ventures shares started in September on the AQSE Growth Market in the UK. The company raised GBP650,400 before expenses though the issue of almost 24.4m shares to identify investment opportunities in Europe.