michael carey

Valeo Foods agrees Jacob Fruitfield purchase

Valeo Foods has announced that it has reached agreement to acquire Jacob Fruitfield Food Group for an undisclosed amount.

The deal is subject to regulatory approval.

Set up 2010, Valeo is made up of a growing portfolio of Irish consumer brands, including Batchelors, Odlums, Shamrock, Sqeez, Roma, Erin, Amigo, Lustre and Picnic. The company also offers route-to-market services for several international consumer brands.

Jacob Fruitfield includes Fruitfield Foods, which was bought from Nestl� in 2002, and Irish Biscuits, which was purchased from Groupe Danone in 2004. Among its consumer brands are Jacob’s biscuits (Fig Rolls, Kimberley, Mikado and Coconut Creams), Chef sauces, Fruitfield jams and marmalades and Silvermints and Scots Clan sweets and confectionery.

Valeo said the combined business will have an annual turnover of approximately €300m and a workforce of nearly 500.

The company said the deal is consistent with its “strategy to grow its business in the Irish food sector where international competition, domestic manufacturing costs and pressure to meet retailers’ and consumers’ requirements in terms of price and value is an ongoing and significant challenge”.

The group is controlled by London-based European mid-market private equity firm CapVest, which is led by Seamus Fitzpatrick. Its investors include clients of NCB Wealth Management.

The acquisition of Jacob Fruitfield will be financed by a combination of cash, vendor loan note and new equity. Apart from CapVest, significant shareholders in the enlarged Valeo include Origin Enterprises, the Irish-based ESM and AIM quoted agri-services group and one of the original investors in Valeo, and Jacob Fruitfield selling shareholders who are reinvesting in the enlarged business.

Seamus Fitzpatrick, co-founder of CapVest, will continue as chairman of Valeo. David Andrews and Michael Carey will join the board of Valeo as non-executive directors.

Seamus Kearney, the current managing director of Jacob Fruitfield, will become the group CEO of Valeo at completion.

“Given the very tough trading environment, growing the business to allow investment behind our brands makes strong commercial sense,” said Fitzpatrick. “Our acquisition of Jacob Fruitfield is a significant step in what is likely to be an ongoing process of further consolidation in the Irish food sector. The enlarged Valeo that will emerge from this deal will be a more diversified and resilient Irish food company, well positioned for further growth.”

“Bringing together these great Irish products into a single entity is the right response in the context of the challenges and opportunities facing the Irish consumer food market,” said Kearney.

Carey said the deal will provide a strong platform for growth. “As a larger group with an extended range of products, we can ensure we meet the market demand for greater value and we can build an enhanced ability to develop the products further. We are delighted to have the opportunity to become investors in the enlarged Valeo Food Group.”

Pictured: Michael Carey, who will be a non-executive director on Valeo board