British upmarket crisp maker Tyrrells has made its second overseas acquisition in less than nine months as part of ambitious plans to make the Herefordshire-based business the “biggest premium snack brand in the world”.
The acquisition of Aroma Snacks, which makes organic crisps under the brand name Lisa’s Hand-Cookd Chips using potatoes cultivated in the foothills of the southern German Alps, follows Tyrrell’s takeover of Australia’s Yarra Valley Snack Foods in August last year. It gives the company exposure to the fast-growing organic food market.
“Organic is really picking up again and is starting to grow nicely,” said chief executive David Milner, who has been in the role for six years.
Tyrrells, which was sold to private equity house Investcorp in 2013 for £100m after being put up for sale by previous owners Langholm Capital, already exports to more than 37 countries and its overseas division is the fastest growing segment of the business.
It’s also becoming an increasingly important part of the company. This year, 45pc of Tyrrells’ estimated £240m of annual sales will be generated outside of the UK.
Mr Milner stayed on as chief executive when Investcorp took over and at the time, said that he wanted to use the new backers’ investment to focus on France, Germany, the Netherlands and the US, which he sees as the key international snack markets.
He has now confirmed that more acquisitions are in the pipeline for Tyrrells, which has grown its sales by 30pc a year under his leadership.
“We are looking for opportunities to make acquisitions in our export markets in which we are successful,” he said. “This is our strategy to accelerate expansion”.
The acquisition of Aroma makes Germany Tyrrell’s biggest European market and increases the number of manufacturing sites to five globally. It will also boost the company’s annual sales by 10pc.
Tyrrells, which targets the premium end of the crisp market with “hand cooked” gourmet flavours, tends to set up crisp-cooking kitchens in markets where the products are selling well because the fragile snack is difficult to transport.
“Sending crisps to the other side of the world from Herefordshire is a big and bulky business – a lot of it is air – so it is better to manufacture where you are close to consumer,” said Mr Milner.
But as well as giving it a manufacturing base in Germany, Aroma brings Tyrrells an in-country sales force and relationships with key retail customers who might be interested in stocking the products.
Moreover, plans are afoot to import Lisa’s Hand-Cooked Chips, which include continental flavours such as Swiss herbs and rosemary, into the UK.
“Organic crisps will soon be appearing on the supermarket shelves, and they will be mine,” Mr Milner said.
Tyrrells was founded by farmer Will Chase, who first started the business as a sideline on his Herefordshire farm, Tyrrells Court Farm, in 2002.
Langholm Capital bought Tyrrells from Mr Chase in April 2008 for £40m. Langholm is backed by Unilever, the global consumer and household goods firm. Its other investments have included Dorset Cereals and Bart spices.
Although Tyrrells core product is potato crisps, it has forayed into other ranges in recent years, including vegetable crisps, sweet potato crisps, popcorn and tortilla.
By Julia Bradshaw
Source: The Telegraph
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