Noble Foods agrees Gü acquisition by Exponent

By Rod Addy contact

- Last updated on GMT

Gü recently expanded into fast-growing categories such as free-from
Gü recently expanded into fast-growing categories such as free-from

Related tags: Finance, Bakery

Noble Foods has agreed to sell top premium chilled desserts brand Gü to Exponent for an undisclosed sum, as the private equity group claims the brand has significant global potential.

Mark Lynch, partner at corporate finance house Oghma Partners, said of Exponent: "Looks like a good owner for the Gü business given their historic track record of successfully growing food businesses.

"We expect that Exponent will be looking to invest in the business to drive growth and turn the brand from a household name in the UK to a household name outside the UK -  Europe and North America would be the initial obvious targets."

Noble Foods acquired the brand in 2010 and supported its growth over the past ten years. It invested in a manufacturing facility in Bishops Stortford, which opened in 2018.

Last year Noble Foods drove the brand to the top spot in the chilled dessert category, with retail sales value up 25% year-on-year to more than £69m [Nielsen Total Market Data, w/e 24th April 2021] - the second consecutive year Gü achieved double digit growth.

The success was underpinned by continued product innovation, with the brand's range of Cheesecakes, Mousse and Hot Puds expanding, as well as its entry into the free-from category.

Gü Inspirations

Its newest range – Gü Inspirations, based on bakery favourites – was successfully launched earlier this year and there was a pipeline of further products in development. 

Pete Utting, managing director at Gü, which was launched in 2003 by James Averdieck, a former marketer and management consultant, said the Exponent team 'has a deep understanding of the food and drink sector'. He said Exponent also had 'a strong track record in adding value to well-known brands such as Loch Lomond Whisky, Vibrant Foods and Eat Real and Proper'. It had also returned Quorn to growth and expanded its presence internationally during its ownership of the company between 2011 and 2016.

"Exponent has already committed to a significant investment to further increase capacity at our UK site, which will enable us to meet our future demand from the UK, Europe and the US.

“Noble Foods has been a great custodian of the brand over the last ten years, and we are extremely grateful for their support in helping us grow the business.”​ 

'Increasing its international reach'

Duncan Everett, chief executive of Noble Foods Group, commented: “We strongly believe that Exponent has the necessary expertise to grow the Gü business even further, especially increasing its international reach.

"The sale allows us to invest and grow Noble Foods’ core business and brands. I’d like to thank Pete and his team for the exemplary leadership and steering Gü into the leading position it holds today.”

Simon Davidson, senior partner at Exponent commented on the acquisition of Gü: “We have followed the business for over a decade, having recognised its exceptional brand, great products and strong growth potential.

"We now look forward to supporting Pete and the team as they deliver its next phase of growth. Building on its success in the UK, we believe Gü has enormous international potential with the opportunity to create a truly global, premium indulgence brand.”

The sale is expected to conclude in June.

Free-from expansion

In recent years, Gü expanded into fast-growing categories such as free-from, further boosting value sales. It also has a strong and increasing presence in France and Germany. 

Spayne Lindsay, OC&C, KPMG, DLA Piper, MDW Capital and EMW Law advised Noble Foods and the Gü management team on the deal. 

Exponent was advised by Allen and Overy, EY Parthenon, KPMG, Rabobank, Tomorrow Partners, Arthur J. Gallagher & Co, Alix Partners.

Related topics: Bakery, Business Leaders

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