Equistone Partners Europe invests in Whitworths
LONDON, September 11, 2013-- Equistone Partners Europe Limited, one of Europe’s leading mid-market private equity managers, today announces that Equistone Partners Europe Fund IV (“Equistone”), has taken a majority stake in Whitworths (“the Company”), the UK’s largest supplier of dried fruit, nut and seed products, from European Capital, in a transaction which values the business at £90m.
Whitworths, a Northamptonshire-based company founded in 1886, supplies branded and own label dried fruit, nut and seed products, with approximately 30% market share in its category. The category has grown impressively through the economic downturn, achieving 7% growth per annum, as the popularity of healthier food alternatives and home baking continues to increase. In the year to April 2013, the Company generated total sales of £157.3m.
The senior management team, led by Peter Utting as Chief Executive, has successfully grown the business in recent years, driven by a resurgent Whitworths brand, and repositioned the business as the clear category captain for major UK retailers. Equistone’s investment will be used to support further development of the product range to address new usage occasions, such as out of home snacking, and to develop further Whitworths’ growing branded proposition, under multiple brands, as well as providing scope to acquire complementary businesses.
Equistone has made several previous investments in the food sector, most recently Charles & Alice, a well-known French manufacturer of fruit desserts. Equistone’s acquisition of Whitworths marks its 14th investment from Equistone Partners Europe Fund IV.
Joyce Church, of Equistone Partners Europe Limited, commented:
“Whitworths stands out as the market leader in dried fruit, nut and seed products, a category with attractive dynamics. The management team has delivered on its strategy to date, and we look forward to working with them to help the business continue to develop, expanding distribution and product offering.”
Peter Utting, Chief Executive of Whitworths, said:
“Together with the management team at Whitworths, I have enjoyed building the Company over the recent years to its current scale and reputation. We are excited to work with the team at Equistone to explore new opportunities, and we are committed to continuing to deliver our exceptional product range and service to our current and prospective customers.”
Debt financing for the transaction was provided by HSBC, Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland.
Advisers on the transaction included:
•For Equistone: Spayne & Lindsay (corporate finance), Eversheds (legal), Alvarez & Marsal (financial, operational, tax due diligence), Parthenon (commercial due diligence), Deloitte (tax), Marsh (insurance)
•For Management: Cornerstone (commercial), EMW Law (legal)
•Vendor due diligence: KPMG (financial due diligence), OC&C (commercial due diligence)
Downloadable Venture Capital Database