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May 28, 2002

UK: Crunch time for Golden Wonder as Pepsi, Longolf buy up

One of the UK's best known crisps producers, Golden Wonder, is being spilt up and sold to arch-rival snack firm Walkers and Longolf, owner of the Skelmersdale-based food producer The Snack Factory.  The deal will see Longolf control brands such as Nik Naks, Wheat Crunchies and the flagship Golden Wonder crisps, as well as the company's supermarket contract business. Meanwhile Walkers will take on the cheesy Wotsits brand in a separate deal.

One of the UK’s best known crisps producers, Golden Wonder, is being spilt up and sold to arch-rival snack firm Walkers and Longolf, owner of the Skelmersdale-based food producer The Snack Factory. 

The deal will see Longolf control brands such as Nik Naks, Wheat Crunchies and the flagship Golden Wonder crisps, as well as the company’s supermarket contract business. Meanwhile Walkers will take on the cheesy Wotsits brand in a separate deal.

Scottish baker William Alexander founded Market Harborough-based Golden Wonder in 1947. The company was sold to Imperial Foods in 1961, and then to food conglomerate Dalgety when Hanson took over Imperial Foods 25 years later. In 1995, it was subject to a management buyout, backed by the venture capital group Legal & General Ventures, and then to a secondary buyout of 75% worth £156.5m (US$228.4m) by independent venture capital group Bridgepoint Capital in July 2000.

The company operates two manufacturing sites, in Corby and Scunthorpe, and employs 1,400 staff.

Privately held Longolf and Walkers, which is owned by US giant PepsiCo, have both declined to comment on their plans for the future of the crisp brands and Golden Wonder employees until the Office of Fair Trading has completed its review of the deal in around six weeks.

The deal was completed for an undisclosed sum, however industry sources have suggested that Bridgepoint is more than doubling the amount paid for its equity stake. Golden Wonder’s CEO Clive Sharpe, who paid £80,000 for a 3-4% stake during the original 1995 buyout from Dalgety, is also expected to become a millionaire from the deal. He is not expected to remain at the company.

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