Big Bear to float on AIM

By Elaine Watson

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Food, Flavor

Big Bear to float on AIM
The maker of Sugar Puffs and Poppets is planning to float on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) to raise cash to develop its products and fund...

The maker of Sugar Puffs and Poppets is planning to float on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) to raise cash to develop its products and fund acquisitions.

Big Bear was created in 2003 by Mario Giannotta, John Jackson, and Paul Wilkinson through the acquisition of Fox’s Confectionery from Northern Foods. It went on to acquire Sugar Puffs and Harvest Chewee cereal bars from PepsiCo in 2006.

These brands have since been developed and expanded, with several new product launches and “a substantial improvement in performance and profitability”, according to the directors, who own about a third of the business. Fox’s Glacier sales rose by more than 100%, Harvest Cheweee by more than 50% and Honey Monster cereals by more than 30% respectively following their acquisition by Big Bear.

Big Bear’s sales have grown almost fourfold over the last five years from less than £14M in 2004 to £53M in 2009, while operating profits grew from £1.1M to £8.1M over the same period. The group has also generated more than £20M of cash from operating activities over the past three years, which has been largely used to pay down acquisition debt and return cash to investors.
Following the flotation, which is expected to put a £75M price tag on the business, the directors said the firm would, “where appropriate, acquire further underperforming heritage food brands”
While its primary focus would be in the UK, it would also explore opportunities to grow its presence in the EU, “both organically and by suitable acquisitions”, it added.
Recent launches under the Honey Monster brand include Honey Monster Waffles - a multigrain waffle-shaped cereal coated in honey and fortified with iron and vitamins. Banana Puffs - wheat puffs glazed with banana flavoured syrup, and Monster Puffs - Sugar Puff-based cereal bars in chocolate and milk flavours, all targeted at children were added to the portfolio. Poppets, which were first introduced in 1937 by Paynes of Croydon, have also been re-launched by Big Bear.
* Food Manufacture​ is hosting Food for Kids: a conference exploring how to create successful products that appeal to children (and their parents), on March 9 at the America Square Conference Centre in London. Click here​ for more details.

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