Leatherhead acquired by Science Group for £1.6M

By Laurence Gibbons

- Last updated on GMT

Leatherhead Food Research has been saved from administration by the Science Group
Leatherhead Food Research has been saved from administration by the Science Group

Related tags Leatherhead food research Food

Leatherhead Food Research has been bought out of administration by the Science Group for £1.6M in a move that will rid the organisation of its legacy pension deficit, the buyer revealed.

The organisation will now trade as Leatherhead Research Ltd and will continue to provide technical consultancy services, including scientific research, regulatory advice, market insights, and testing services to the food and drink industry, Leatherhead said.

Leatherhead’s ceo Geoff Spriegel told FoodManufacture.co.uk the move represented a “new chapter in the history”​ of the almost 100-year-old organisation.

“The original purpose of Leatherhead Food Research when it was founded in 1919 was to support the food industry in the challenges that were faced at the end of the First World War,” ​he said.

Important role for science

“Productivity and food security were the issues of the day and it was identified that there was an important role for science and technology across all parts of the food supply chain.”

The research carried out at Leatherhead and other research bodies in the years that followed, helped to establish the UK as a recognised leader in food science and changed the shape of the food industry, Spriegel claimed.

“These themes remain relevant today,”​ he added. “The landscape of the food industry may have changed, but the vital role of science remains firmly at the core.”

Debt and pension liabilities

SGL1 Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of Science Group, acquired the operating business and assets – excluding the freehold property and free of debt and DB pension liabilities – from the administrator of Leatherhead.

Science Group chairman Martyn Ratcliffe claimed the combined businesses would form a “substantial UK player” ​in the global food and beverage marketplace.

“We view the acquisition of Leatherhead, a very well established brand with a strong client base and staff, as strengthening the Science Group’s position in this market, supplementing our existing Sagentia and Oakland Innovation operations,”​ Ratcliffe said.

Meanwhile, news of the sale followed numerous individuals that contacted FoodManufacture.co.uk last week to ask if  Leatherhead had been taken into administration.

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