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September 2, 2013

UPDATE: UK: Burton’s management “want to remain involved”

The management of Burton's Biscuit Co. want to "remain involved" in the company if it is sold but a management buyout seems less likely, just-food understands.

The management of Burton’s Biscuit Co. want to “remain involved” in the company if it is sold but a management buyout seems less likely, just-food understands.

Apollo Management and CIBC, the private-equity owners of the UK biscuit maker, announced plans to put Burton’s on the block last week and the sale process is expected to get under way in the coming days.

The Burton’s management team, lead by CEO Ben Clarke, were left with a “small minority stake” in the maker of the Maryland cookies and Jammie Dodgers brands after the company’s 2009 debt-for-equity swap. The then owner, Duke Street Capital, was forced to hand over the company to lenders that had financed its GBP220m (US$286.3m) buy-out of Burton’s in 2007. Duke Street was also left with a small stake in Burton’s.

A spokesperson for the company declined to comment on a report in The Sunday Times that management are hoping to secure financial backing for an MBO.

However, a source close to the situation downplayed the likelihood of an MBO, instead suggesting management want to “remain involved” in the development of the group, particularly if it falls into the hands of another private-equity owner.

Burton’s is one year into a four-year turnaround plan that has seen it boost profitability by reducing costs, shedding low-margin contracts and investing in building its brands.

The company said today (2 September) full-year profit before tax rose GBP4.8m (US$7.5m) to GBP10m. EBITDA was up 24% to GBP34.6m, compared to GBP27.8m in 2012.

Commenting on the results, Clarke stressed that the profit improvement had been driven by Burton’s strategic drive. “We have shown since 2009 that with the team and the business plan we have in place, Burton’s can prosper in challenging conditions,” Clarke insisted.

The sale is an open auction process and, contrary to reports, Mondelez International does not have first refusal, just-food understands.

Burton’s is expected to generate in the region of GBP350m.

It is believed that there is a good level of interest in the sale and Apollo Management and CIBC appointed Credit Suisse to test the waters and assess the market’s appetite for the biscuit maker in April this year. 

Click here to view Burton’s results in full, or click here for just-food’s recent interview with CMO Stuart Wilson. 

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