LDC has backed the management buyout of iconic Yorkshire crisp brand Seabrook as the business embarks on a major growth drive to increase its market share.
Established in 1945 by Charles Brook and his son Colin Brook, Seabrook produces a range of crinkle cut, straight cut and premium hand-cooked lattice crisps, as well as low-calorie stick snacks, at its headquarters in Bradford, Yorkshire. The company supplies over 20 million bags of crisps each month and employs nearly 150 staff.
Seabrook’s offering has been transformed in recent years with the launch of innovative products, including its ‘lattice’ range in 2014, and supported by new marketing campaigns and promotional strategy. As a result, it has grown distribution nationally, with strong positions in grocery retail, value retail and foodservice, and increased penetration to over one in four UK households.
The business has increased its retail sales value year-on-year by 12 per cent and continues to consistently outperform the overall UK crisp market, which has grown at 4.2 per cent CAGR since 2007 and is worth £1.1bn. With an average of over 2.5kg of crisps consumed per person per year, the UK has the highest crisp consumption per capital in the world.
The management buyout has been led by chief executive Jonathan Bye who has overseen the strong growth of the Seabrook brand since his appointment in 2012. The transaction will see a full exit by owner Ken Brook-Chrispin.
The investment from LDC, which has taken a majority equity stake in the business, will support Seabrook as it looks to invest in its manufacturing infrastructure, new product development and progress international sales opportunities. In addition, the team has identified a number of potential acquisition targets which will further enhance the customer offering. The transaction was led by LDC Director Ged Gould and supported by Investment Directors Simon Braham and Dale Alderson.
Gould said: “Having established itself as an iconic food brand and become a staple on the shelves of retailers across the country, Seabrook has set its sights firmly on accelerating its growth plans and growing further share in the UK market. Aside from its rich history, Seabrook impressed us with its unwavering commitment to product quality and its ability to consistently deliver a range of products that are loved by consumers and meet their ever-developing tastes.
“Our financial, strategic and operational support will bolster a proven and skilled management team, which has already driven remarkable growth in the business, in writing a new exciting chapter in Seabrook’s history. We look forward to taking part in that journey and playing our part in bringing Seabrook’s crisps to more households.”
Gould added: “Seabrook is just one of many mid-sized companies across the North that are looking for a partner that will catalyse their growth strategy. Private equity has proven its credentials in building value and delivering business transformation - whether through operational improvements, adding strategic direction, funding investment or backing further acquisitions. If the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ is to reach its full potential, private equity will have to play a central role in supporting the ambitions of its business community.”
The deal follows LDC’s recent announcement to pledge £1.2bn of capital over the next three years to invest in the UK’s mid-sized companies.
Jonathan Bye, Chief Executive at Seabrook Crisps, said: “LDC’s support for the MBO of Seabrook Crisps is great news and will help us to not only deliver but accelerate our growth plan. It will enable us to invest both in our operations to drive further efficiencies and flexibility and to increase marketing investment to continue to build the brand’s national profile.
“Importantly, this will drive the business forward with the same team that has put our winning brand strategy in place. As the main challenger brand in the category we wanted to keep momentum and the same culture and expertise that helped deliver our growth so far.”
Charlie Barker and Mike Selina from Yorkshire Bank provided senior debt facilities to support the transaction.
Alex Hartley at KPMG advised LDC on the deal, while a team at Pinsent Masons provided legal advice. Corporate financiers McQueen, management advisers Sentio and legal advisers Walker Morris supported the vendors through the sale process. Deloitte also advised the Brook-Chrispin family on the transaction.