Urban Fresh Foods, the maker of Bear fruit snack bars and Urban dried fruit, has been gobbled up by Lotus Bakeries, the Belgian biscuit maker.
The deal, which is understood to value the health food snacks company at £70m, is the second takeover of a British food company by Lotus this year.
Just four months ago Lotus, which is best known for its caramelised biscuits in the UK, bought Natural Balance Foods, the maker of gluten-free Nakd and Trek snack bars.
It is understood that Lotus, which is listed on the Belgian stock exchange but continues to be run as a family business, saw off competition from several other food companies during an intense auction process.
The deal, handled by bankers at Houlihan Lokey, which recently took over London-based boutique McQueen, comes on the back of growing interest from overseas companies in British food companies.
Earlier this year Quorn was sold to Philippine noodle maker Monde Nissin and last year United Biscuits, the maker of Jammie Dodgers, was sold to Turkey’s Yildiz for £2bn.
“The mission of Lotus is to create delicious products and brands to meet all consumer needs, both in the more indulgent and healthy snacking segments. That is why we are delighted to announce the partnership with these magnificent brands,” said Jan Boone, chief executive of Lotus.
The sale of the company will mark a substantial payday for the five founders of Urban Fresh Foods.
The business was set up in 2007 by former fitness instructor Hayley Gait-Golding and her husband Andrew, with financial backing from her parents. Former Innocent drinks director Giles Brook joined the small team in 2009 and provided further investment to allow the group to grow to 40 employees. Mr and Mrs Gait-Golding and Mr Brook will continue to run the business from its office in London.
“We see the deal with Lotus as an extension to our family that will accelerate our three-year plan.”
The company, whose products include Fruit YoYos and “Bear Nibbles”, is on target to make £27m of revenues next year and is sold in 18,000 outlets including Sainsbury’s and Tescos. Urban Fresh Foods has already launched in Ireland, the UAE, the Netherlands and Denmark.
Bear, known for its distinctive and colourful packaging, recently became the biggest seller of children’s fruit snacks in the UK. The company has so far delivered 375m portions of fruit and is aiming to take this to 1bn portions within three years.
By Ashley Armstrong
Source: The Telegraph
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