‘A very interesting target’: Ferrero looks to expand biscuit offering after Burton’s acquisition

By Oliver Morrison

- Last updated on GMT

Image supplied by Burton's
Image supplied by Burton's

Related tags Biscuit Ferrero Burton's Biscuits

Italian confectionery giant Ferrero says it is looking to enlarge its product offering in the sweet biscuit market after acquiring the UK’s second-largest biscuit manufacturer Burton’s from former owner Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board for an undisclosed sum.

Burton’s produces some of the best-loved brands in the UK biscuit market including Maryland Cookies, Jammie Dodgers, Wagon Wheels, Paterson’s and Thomas Fudge’s and employs around 2,000 people across six manufacturing locations in the UK. It generated sales of more than £275 million during the last 12 months.

Through this acquisition, the Ferrero-related company said it expects to enlarge the offer of products in the sweet biscuits market, further to the previous acquisitions of Biscuits Delacre, Kelsen Group and Fox’s.

Ferrero was considered an outside chance for the acquisition, given its preference for branded goods. Much of Burton’s revenues come from private label and contract manufacturing.

In the UK, meanwhile, biscuit sales are under threat from a saturated market and as consumers seek more options for on-the-go formats and products with functional benefits.

Pladis, the Turkish owner of Britain’s biggest biscuit maker McVitie’s blamed the ‘mature’ UK biscuit market on its recent decision to close its factory in Glasgow.

Biscuit sales did however rise 6% during lockdown from £3.01 billion to £3.2 billion in the year to April, according to the market research firm Kantar, as more people indulged indoors during the pandemic.

‘Strong heritage and brand awareness’

A Ferrero related spokesperson told FoodNavigator the UK market remains “a very interesting target for sweet packaged consumer goods, with millions of engaged customers”, ​adding the acquisition will allow the company “to enlarge the offer of products in the sweet biscuit market, fulfilling the evolving needs and trends of consumers”.

“The business has a history in the British biscuit market dating back to 1935, with a very strong heritage and brand awareness.”

“Burton’s Biscuits is a much-loved, authentic and leading biscuits manufacturer who make some iconic brands such as Wagon Wheels, Jammie Dodgers, Maryland, Paterson’s and Thomas Fudge’s and Lyon’s, as well as baking high-quality biscuits for major retailers and global brand partners. We look forward to working with the team at Burton’s Biscuits as we build our journey together.”

As part of the transaction, the Ferrero-related company will take over the six production facilities in UK, which are based in Blackpool, Dorset, Edinburgh, Livingston, Llantarnam and Isle of Arran.

There are no plans to change staffing levels at this point, we were told. “Our primary intention is to invest in the acquired business, capitalize on exciting new growth opportunities for Burton’s Biscuits and make the integration process as seamless as possible.”

Ontario Teachers’ acquired Burton’s in 2013, helping grow the business through continued investment across the branded, retailer brand and third-party global brand portfolios, in addition to organic initiatives and bolt-on acquisitions.

Nick Jansa, Senior Managing Director, Europe, the Middle East and Africa for Ontario Teachers’ said Burton’s is well positioned for success.

“We’re proud to have supported Burton’s and overseen the significant growth of this leading UK biscuit manufacturer. Since our investment, Burton’s has implemented key organic growth initiatives and completed a number of strategic acquisitions to further strengthen its portfolio and manufacturing capability. Today, and in future as part of the Ferrero family, the company is well positioned for success, with its iconic brands, strong retail relationships and high-quality manufacturing operation.”

Burton’s CEO Nick Field added: “Ontario Teachers’ has been an excellent partner for Burton’s, and we thank them for their continued support over the past eight years. Their industry expertise, operational experience, and approach to value creation has helped us accelerate our growth plans – both organically and through strategic acquisitions.”

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