TSC Foods in talks to buy Glorious! brand

By Elaine Watson

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Marco pierre white

TSC Foods is in talks to acquire the upmarket Glorious! brand endorsed by celebrity chef Marco Pierre White following news that brand owner Conival...

TSC Foods is in talks to acquire the upmarket Glorious! brand endorsed by celebrity chef Marco Pierre White following news that brand owner Conival is facing liquidation.

Alternative Investment Market (AIM)-listed Conival ceased trading last week after a major (unnamed) creditor called in debts. The firm, which was rumoured to be having difficulties after failing to publish its annual accounts by the December 31 deadline last year, said it was “taking immediate advice from an insolvency practitioner with a view to placing the Conival Group into liquidation”.

The announcement followed the sudden departure (on January 28) of chief executive Jeremy Schwartz, a former brand marketing director at Sainsbury and marketing executive at Coca-Cola and L’Oreal, who was the driving force behind the firm.

However, Scunthorpe-based TSC, which produces, markets and distributes chilled soups and sauces under the Glorious! brand for Morrisons, Boots, Waitrose and the French retailer Monoprix, stressed that it was “business as usual for customers”

Moreover, the financial problems at Conival were not a reflection of the poor performance of the products, insisted TSC md Bill Morran. “Sales are doing particularly well in chilled soups now Heinz and Baxters have pulled out. This means that we are the only other key branded player in the category apart from New Covent Garden and they are focused primarily on vegetable-based soups. We’ve also brought new, younger, consumers into the category.”

He added: “Following last week’s stock exchange announcement, we’re now talking to Conival about acquiring the brand. We are also talking to the manufacturer that produces chilled desserts under the Glorious! brand and to Sainsbury [which stocks the desserts] about how we can work together.”

One of a series of food-related cash shell companies launched on the AIM in 2004, Conival aimed to tap into the celebrity chef phenomenon by linking up with Marco Pierre White. It also enlisted a colleague and friend of the chef, Alexander Spencer-Churchill, on to its board.

While the Glorious! brand has been successful, however, other high-profile launches including Sparky (functional foods with omega-3) and Blenheim Palace Provisions (premium desserts and drinks) were costly failures and have both been withdrawn from the market.

One source close to the firm said: “I think a couple of things tipped it over the edge - first the sudden departure of Jeremy Schwartz, and secondly the cost structure at the company. They have got all the costs associated with being a plc, but not a very big business and no assets.”

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