VFC Foods has rubber-stamped a deal to acquire The Meatless Farm Co. brand but the UK meat-free business itself remains in administration.
UK peer VFC Foods, co-owned by Veganuary founder Matthew Glover and known for its vegan fried chicken, said the transaction is “worth £12m in sales”, (the equivalent of $15.2m), the North Yorkshire-based company said in a statement today (21 June).
A spokesperson for VFC Foods confirmed the deal only includes the brand and inventory, adding that Meatless Farm used a third-party manufacturer.
Kroll confirmed last week it was appointed as the administrator of loss-making Meatless Farm in May and had been “exploring all options for the business and its assets”.
VFC Foods’ co-founder Adam Lyons said: “Acquiring this remarkable brand is a testament to the hard work of the Meatless Farm team, who have done an exceptional job in developing and establishing quality products. Meatless Farm aligns seamlessly with our growth strategy, and we are confident in the underlying consumer demand for plant-based products.”
Glover and Lyons set up VFC Foods in 2020. Entrepreneur Glover is also a managing director and co-founder of private-equity firm Veg Capital. He said: “VFC Foods is well positioned to sustainably grow the Meatless Farm brand once the cost-of-living crisis eases, and the plant-based space has experienced further consolidation.”
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Meatless Farm, set up in 2016 by Danish national Morten Toft Bech in the northern English city of Leeds, booked a net loss of £23.5m for the year to 31 December 2021, wider than a £15.4m loss in the preceding 12 months, according to the most recent accounts filed with Companies House in London.
A clutch of Meatless Farm employees took to LinkedIn last week to declare they had been made redundant. The redundancies “were already in progress” before an offer was made, the spokesperson for VFC Foods told Just Food. The same comment was repeated with respect to management, including founder Toft Bech.
The deal only covers Meatless Farm’s UK sales operations, the spokesperson said when asked about the status of the Leeds company’s offices in Amsterdam, Singapore and New York.
Meatless Farm had been supplying the likes of Tesco, Sainsbury, Asda and Morrisons in the UK. “Meatless Farm will be a standalone brand and our immediate priority is to get their much-loved products back on supermarket shelves and on foodservice menus,” the spokesperson added when asked about the listings.
David Sparrow, the CEO of VFC Foods, said in the statement: “We are delighted to announce this strategic acquisition, whilst being extremely mindful of the business’ challenges and the impact on the people involved. By integrating both brands, we can utilise numerous synergies with valued customers and suppliers, thus driving innovation and extending customer choice.”