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Sleaford Quality Foods bought by Indian multinational

By Ben Bouckley , 07-Jan-2011

Indian multinational Jain Irrigation has acquired a controlling stake in UK-based food ingredient supplier Sleaford Quality Foods for a sum believed to be around £10m.

Situated in the East Midlands, Sleaford supplies blue-chip multinationals and food companies with pre-packed branded and own label ingredients.

Something of a success story, the firm predicts a 2010 turnover for £27m, up from £15m just four years before, with growth attributed to greater purchasing of ingredients direct from source and ‘lean manufacturing’ techniques.

This enabled Sleaford to overcome a challenging economic climate where food ingredient firms are generally under pressure from food manufacturers to reduce gross margins, which brings the incentive to grow and secure further contracts.

A 1,200 product range includes dehydrated vegetables, custom-blended spices, herbs, dehydrated fruits, soup mixes, pulses, canned vegetables. 90 staff work at its 120,000 sq ft Lincolnshire manufacturing base, which includes a spice blending facility.

No personnel changes planned

Jain Irrigation – a multinational active in numerous industry sectors and headquartered in Mumbai – has acquired an 80% stake with and option to require the remaining 20% over four years.

A Jain spokesman refused to disclose the size of the deal, but emphasised that no major changes were planned as regards Sleaford’s existing personnel of management.

He said the acquisition would enable Jain to enter the UK’s large ethnic food market allowing “direct access to a large market for value-added products”, and extend the product range within its existing food division.

Recent innovations from Sleaford include natural coloured jelly crystals, flavoured cous cous blends designed as low-fat meal accompaniments and a new range of ‘clean declaration’ dried sauces.

Product supply support

Managing director Anil Jain said his firm would aim to “add value” to Sleaford through a “large source base” from Indian and other parts of the world.

“Sleaford’s commitment to produce high quality products coupled with its excellent reputation for customer service will greatly help in opening-up of large opportunity for our food processing division” he said.

Sleaford managing director James Arnold said: "Jain is the perfect partner for our business. In addition to their strong product supply support, they bring excellent agricultural and food processing expertise to help improve the success of the business.”

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