UK food group Samworth Brothers has taken a minority stake in local pie and quiche maker Higgidy with an option to increase its holding in the future.

Financial details were not disclosed and nor was the exact size of the stake taken.

Asked why it had gone down the minority stake route, a Samworth Brothers spokesperson told just-food: “We have taken this approach because it gives us an opportunity to work together for a while and consider the best options for the future. No further time-frame has been set.”

Flor Healy, Samworth Brothers’ chief executive officer, will join the Higgidy board as a non-executive director. 

Samworth, based in Leicestershire in the English Midlands, already has pies and pasties in its portfolio. It owns Cornish pasty brand Ginsters and pork pie specialist Dickinson & Morris.

Higgidy, based in Susses in southern England, was founded by Camilla Stephens in 2003 with an ambition to bring innovation to the pie category. It has grown from a kitchen start-up into a GBP35m (US$44.3m) brand employing 300 people through a product range which has a particular focus on vegetarian lines.

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Healy at Samworth Brothers, which employs more than 9,000 people, said: “The Higgidy team has been extremely successful over the past 16 years in growing a much-loved and contemporary premium consumer brand with strong retailer partnerships. 

“Our own business already has a great track record in developing brands with distinctive identities and brand stories. We are also strong in savoury pastry and food-to-go and have been successful in innovating and developing these categories further in recent years.

“Our involvement in Higgidy will help build on these existing business strengths and open up significant new opportunities. 

“We are also impressed by Higgidy’s success in developing a significant percentage of sales in vegetarian and vegan product lines and look forward to working with the Higgidy team on further innovation in such areas.” 

Higgidy CEO Mark Campbell said: “We love making feel-good family food and our long-term ambition for Higgidy is to build an enduring British food business that we can all be proud of in the decades to come. 

“We’ve always known that to achieve this in our sector we’d need to partner with a larger business at the right moment. With significant opportunities opening up for us in the market this feels like exactly the right moment and Samworth Brothers’ fit with our values and culture as well as our strategic alignment make them exactly the right partner.” 

Higgidy will remain a separate business with its own manufacturing facilities.