Bakkavor satisfies acquisitive appetite

By Anita Awbi

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Bread

Icelandic manufacturer Bakkavor has purchased two British food
producers in as many days, securing its position as the UK's
largest chilled foods supplier.

On Friday Laurens Patisseries became the latest target for the predatory multinational, as the Liveras family agreed to sell its chilled desserts business for an estimated £130m.

Laurens Patisseries makes own-label pastries and cakes for the UK's major supermarkets, and had a turnover of £75m in 2005.This proposed sale follows last Thursday's announcement that Bakkavor will buy UK-based chilled bread producer New Primebake for an undisclosed sum, subject to approval from the UK's Office of Fair Trading.

New Primebake employs 340 people at its single Cheshire plant, and supplies major retailers with craft breads and chilled garlic baguettes.

Bakkavor chairman Agust Gudmundsson said the purchase will compliment the firm's private label bread business, allowing it to make "full use of existing capacity…to fulfil consumer and customer demand in this area."

Both deals point to an increase in acquisitive behaviour for Bakkavor as it swells to become a leading player in chilled food production, with further purchases possibly on the horizon.

"We will continue to explore opportunities to grow further in all our markets both organically and through strategic acquisitions,"​ Gudmundsson added.

The firm now operates in six countries, with more than 40 factories preparing ready meals, salads, pizzas and bread for both retail and food service industries.

In March Bakkavor Asia acquired a 40 per cent stake in Chinese manufacturer Creative Foods, which supplies restaurant chain Yum! Brands, and leading supermarkets Wal-Mart and Carrefour with salads.

But the firm's largest deal to date was the purchase of prepared foods giant Geest for more than £623m last May, which immediately elevated the company's position among global food manufacturers.

Last week Bakkavor delivered a record rise in operating profit to £18.5m for the first quarter of 2006 - up 159 per cent on 2005's Q1. Performance was no doubt bolstered by the string of acquisitions in similar markets, which pushed like for like sales up 9.6 per cent.

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