Biscuit International buys Northumbrian Fine Foods

By Rod Addy contact

- Last updated on GMT

NFF makes gluten-free and milk-free biscuits from its site in Team Valley, Gateshead, where it employs 225 people
NFF makes gluten-free and milk-free biscuits from its site in Team Valley, Gateshead, where it employs 225 people
Biscuit International has bought Northumbrian Fine Foods (NFF) from CriSeren Foods in a move designed to boost business for both processors in gluten-free and milk-free biscuits.

In a statement sent to Food Manufacture​, Biscuit International said: “BI has plans to make a number of investments in NFF to support the future growth of the business. These relate to the operational fabric of the building, as well as the production capabilities. We are in the process of developing these exciting plans with BI and, when finalised, will be making further announcements.”

Biscuit International describes itself as one of the leading European businesses in the private-label sweet biscuit market, owning Poult in France, Banketgroep in the Netherlands and A&W in Germany.

Created in 1936, NFF has experienced strong growth in recent years and is now the UK’s largest gluten- and milk-free sweet biscuit manufacturer, with an annual turnover exceeding £27m in 2017. As well as supplying supermarket own-label biscuits, NFF also owns the Prewett’s brand.

Biscuit International said the deal was intended to expand its product offering and geographical footprint, while addressing growing European tastes for organic and free-from products. It would allow Biscuit International to propose a wider offering to its European clients, while significantly reinforcing its presence in the UK.

It would therefore enable NFF to address new markets throughout Europe for gluten- and milk-free biscuits while offering Biscuit International the opportunity to benefit from NFF’s close working relationship with UK multiple retailers and brands.

Market growth

According to a Euromonitor study, gluten- and milk-free products are expected to generate £8.7bn in sales in Europe by 2021, a 60% increase compared to £5.4bn in 2016, driven by change in consumers’ lifestyles. 

Biscuit International assured the market that senior management at NFF would remain unchanged following the deal, with Biscuit International benefiting from the team’s experience to help drive growth in the European market. NFF senior management have decided to invest in Biscuit International equity alongside the other Biscuit International senior managers, it said.

”The European free-from market is very dynamic and represents a real opportunity for growth,” ​said Biscuit International chief executive Giampaolo Schiratti. “NFF’s expertise in gluten- and milk-free biscuit production was a major attraction to us and the business provides an excellent fit into our portfolio of companies.”

”We aim to further develop the business through innovation and creating exciting new products for the UK and European markets, and we anticipate this acquisition will lead our group to become Europe’s largest producer of gluten- and milk-free sweet private-label biscuits and strengthening the partnership with our customers, whether they are retailers or industrials. This ambitious move will contribute to offer an ever more diversified and qualitative product portfolio to our European customers and their consumers.”

European expansion

Stewart McLelland, managing director of NFF, said: “This acquisition by Biscuit International ... provides the platform for us to expand into Europe where we see significant opportunities for developing the gluten-free biscuit sector. Biscuit International are a forward-thinking business and their plans for NFF will further enhance our position as the UK’s number one gluten- and milk-free biscuit manufacturer. We are very proud of our achievements here at NFF and, through the hard work of all our staff, we have created a sustainable and secure business with a great future.”

Following the merger between Groupe Poult and Banketgroep in 2016 and the recent acquisition of A&W Feinbackwaren in Germany, Biscuit International became one of Europe’s leading private-label biscuit players. The group produces 100,000 tons of biscuits and waffles from 12 factories in Europe. Biscuit International generated sales of €300m in 2017, half of which were outside France and employs 1,300 people.

The company is owned by Qualium Investissement, a prominent player in the French private equity market, with approximately €1.2bn of assets under management, and a limited number of French and international institutional investors together with the company’s management team.

NFF is a leading UK manufacturer of gluten- and milk-free sweet biscuits, which it makes at its site in the Team Valley in Gateshead, where it employs 225 people. Primarily a supplier to the UK’s major retailers, the business focuses strongly on new product innovation, with more than 100 new products having been launched into the UK retail sector over the past 12 months alone.

Related topics: Bakery

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