The 180-year-old food group produces a wide range of convenience products, including Ragu, Chicken Tonight, Campbell’s, Ainsley Harriott and Aunt Bessie’s. Turnover for the company was £125M for the year to the end of February 2012, with £174M forecast for the year ahead.
The management buy out has been led by the dried foods firm's chief executive David Salkeld. It sees the exit of previous private equity partner Bridgepoint after five years of involvement. New investment firm and asset manager Intermediate Capital Group (ICG) will hold a minority stake of 49.9% in the food company, with the existing management team taking 50.1%.
Julian Wild, food group director with legal firm Rollits, told FoodManufacture.co.uk: “I’m sure they [Symington’s] will be looking to continue to grow the business and most of Premier’s non-core food brands are for sale. Symington’s is in long-life grocery products so there are parts of Premier that will be a good fit for them.”
Britvic’s soft drinks
Earlier this year it bought Britvic’s soft drinks brand Quosh for an undisclosed amount as part of its growth plans. The firm also has plans to expand its headquarters at Cross Green, Leeds, to manage its growth.
David Salkeld, ceo of Symington’s indicated his plans for further growth in a company statement, which said: “We are delighted to partner with ICG, who took a different approach and have provided us with a unique financing structure, which will give us a strong platform for future growth and expansion. I look forward to building on our strong track record of growth and innovation and continuing our success long into the future.”
Wild thought the deal was good news for the future of the Yorkshire food group. “Symington’s was going to have to refinance or sell – there was a process going on,” he said. “They’ve grown their sales very strongly. I’m not surprised by the exit of their inherited partner Bridgepoint because they’re more retail focused. This deal has certainly resolved that issue.”
Gareth Knight, investment director of ICG said: “We are backing a very exciting business plan.”
Mark Stroud, director at Bridgepoint said: “Symington’s grew substantially during our period of investment, having made a number of strategic acquisitions and concluded an important partnership with Campbell’s. It is now well placed to continue growing with a new investment partner.”
Wild concluded: “It’s a good result for David. He’s a very able operator; he’s innovative and good at introducing new sales so I don’t doubt that he will continue to grow. How much power they have depends on their new partners, how much money they have to spend and how expensive they [Premier brands] are.”
To read which brands and sites may be top of Premier Foods' disposal list, click here.