UK speciality cheese wholesaler H&B Foods has been sold in a management buyout after its parent company, Novel Group, was placed into administration.

The company, which owns the Huge Sauce Company and the Cheese Cellar Company, employs 300 people and generates an annual turnover of GBP76.3m (US$111.8m).

The move secures the long-term future of the business and there will be no changes to contracts or employment terms, the group said.

Emphasising that it is “business as usual” sales director Simon Yorke said: “This move will only enhance the brand and take the business from strength to strength. We have a very strong market share and will increase that with our brilliant products and first-class staff.”

The agreement is jointly funded by the management team and Straumur Burdaras Investment Bank. The management team is made up of the company’s original founders Nick Martin, Jonnie Archer and Yorke.

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A spokesman for Straumur Burdaras said that it anticipates the business will be immediately profitable.

“The Cheese Company will be profitable from day one. We agreed to help finance the deal because we believe in the management’s vision for the business and its future prospects,” the spokesperson said.
Novel Group also owns the Fresh Olive Company, which employs 100 people and has a turnover of GBP18.1m. The business will continue to trade while administrators try to find a buyer, administrators indicated.

A spokesperson for the company said that the cheese business had remained profitable. However, issues at the olive business had forced Novel into administration.

“They had over invested in Fresh Olive, with the building of a new production facility. With the downturn, the company was unable to meet its high overheads,” the spokesperson said.