UK manufacturers Addo Food Group, Winterbotham Darby sold to PAI Partners in chilled-food one-two - Just Food
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UK manufacturers Addo Food Group, Winterbotham Darby sold to PAI Partners in chilled-food one-two

09 Nov 2020

The owners of two UK-based chilled food group have sold the companies to private-equity firm PAI Partners.

UK manufacturers Addo Food Group, Winterbotham Darby sold to PAI Partners in chilled-food one-two

The owners of UK manufacturers Addo Food Group and Winterbotham Darby have sold up to private-equity firm PAI Partners.

Paris-based PAI has acquired savoury-products supplier Addo from London-based investment group LDC and antipasti-to-pickles group Winterbotham Darby from Equistone Partners Europe, a private-equity firm also based in the UK capital.

Addo, located in Nottingham in the English Midlands, owns the brands Pork Farms, Wall’s and Bowyer’s, best known for products such as sausages and pork pies. The company is also an own-label supplier. It has recently branched out into plant-based products.

Winterbotham Darby, based in Surrey, south of London, produces olives, antipasti, continental meats and pickles. It also owns the vegan food brand Squeaky Bean.

Following the completion of the transactions, Winterbotham Darby will form part of a new UK chilled food business alongside Addo.

Colm O’Sullivan, a partner at PAI Partners, said: “We are delighted to be investing in these two leading UK chilled food businesses and very excited to start working with the existing management teams to continue to grow their businesses and support them in doing what they do best – delivering innovative, high-quality products to consumers.”

The most-recent set of accounts for Addo that are publicly available cover the 12 months to 30 March 2019. Released last December, they show the company’s annual revenue was GBP312.5m (US$411.4m), up from GBP277.9m a year earlier, a period that covered 55 weeks.

Addo made an operating profit of GBP7.6m – compared to GBP7.5m the year before – but a loss of GBP5.5m, against GBP3.1m in the previous financial year thanks to financial expenses. Adjusted operating profit was just under GBP2m, compared to GBP2.3m. Addo reported an adjusted annual loss of GBP2m, versus GBP7.7m a year earlier.

Winterbotham Darby’s most recently available accounts at Companies House are for the year to 31 March 2019. Revenue rose 8.2% to GBP187.6m, with the company pointing to “volume growth on core business” and the recovery of “inflationary costs”. The company made an operating profit of just under GBP3m versus GBP3.7m the year before, amid a rise in administrative expenses. The business made a profit for the year of GBP2.5m, against GBP3.1m in the previous year.

The management teams of the companies, led by Addo CEO Deborah Bolton and Winterbotham Darby chief executive Steven Higginson, will remain in place, with the operations of the two businesses continuing to be run separately.

Bolton said: “This milestone follows three years of successful partnership with LDC, they have been a great supporter of our group and their investment and backing has been shown in the growth we have seen under their tenure. We’re now in a market leading position, with a more diverse portfolio, and better-invested manufacturing facilities and we are looking forward to the next stage of our journey.”

Higginson added: “We’ve enjoyed a very successful partnership with Equistone, who have supported us to significantly enhance our presence within the UK grocery market and establish Winterbotham Darby within a number of new, fast-growing chilled food segments. We are excited to be entering the next phase of our development with PAI’s support, where our focus will remain on providing outstanding service and an innovative and diverse range of high-quality products to our valued customers.”

Paul Monk, who is the executive chairman of Addo and Winterbotham Darby, will stay on as executive chairman of the newly-created “platform”, PAI said.

Monk added: “By bringing Addo and Winterbotham Darby together, there is a genuine opportunity to create the best added value chilled foods company in the UK. That is certainly our ambition and I am delighted to have the support of PAI Partners in pursuing this objective.”

Equistone invested in Winterbotham Darby in 2012, while LDC has owned Addo for three years.

The Winterbotham Darby deals also marks an exit for LDC from that business, in which it was a minority shareholder.

Andy Grove, chief investment officer at LDC, said: “When we first invested in [Addo in] 2017, the team’s commitment to their customers shone through. They’ve since made real progress and the team remains as ambitious as the first day we met. We’re excited to see what lies in store for them.”

Paul Harper, a partner at Equistone, added: “Following substantial investment and an established presence across a range of categories, Winterbotham Darby is well-placed to continue its strong growth trajectory under PAI’s ownership, as part of a leading new chilled food platform.”

PAI’s acquisitions of Addo and Winterbotham Darby, announced today (9 November), came on the same day as the private-equity firm revealed it had also acquired a majority stake in Spain-based seafood group Angulas Aguinaga.

The private-equity firm’s other investments in packaged food including owning half of global ice-cream giant Froneri.