Equistone Partners goes nutty for Whitworths

Investment firm takes majority stake in Northamptonshire-based nut specialist.

Investment firm takes majority stake in Northamptonshire-based nut specialist.

Private equity manager Equistone Partners Europe has taken a majority stake in dried fruit, seed and nut company Whitworths, in a transaction which values the business at £90 million.

Northamptonshire-based Whitworths, founded in 1886, supplies branded and own label dried fruit, nut and seed products, with approximately 30 per cent market share in its category.

The category has achieved 7 per cent growth per annum as the popularity of healthier food alternatives and home baking continues to increase, the company says. In the year to April 2013, Whitworths generated total sales of £157.3 million.

Equistone’s investment will be used to support further development of the product range to address new usage occasions, such as out-of-home snacking, and to develop further Whitworths’ growing branded proposition, under multiple brands, as well as providing scope to acquire complementary businesses.

Equistone has made several previous investments in the food sector, most recently Charles & Alice, a French manufacturer of fruit desserts. Equistone’s acquisition of Whitworths marks its 14th investment from Equistone Partners Europe Fund IV.

Joyce Church, of Equistone Partners Europe Limited, comments, ‘Whitworths stands out as the market leader in dried fruit, nut and seed products, a category with attractive dynamics. The management team has delivered on its strategy to date, and we look forward to working with them to help the business continue to develop, expanding distribution and product offering.’

Peter Utting, chief executive of Whitworths adds, ‘Together with the management team at Whitworths, I have enjoyed building the company over the recent years to its current scale and reputation.

‘We are excited to work with the team at Equistone to explore new opportunities, and we are committed to continuing to deliver our exceptional product range and service to our current and prospective customers.’

Hunter Ruthven

Hunter Ruthven

Hunter was the Editor for GrowthBusiness.co.uk from 2012 to 2014, before moving on to Caspian Media Ltd to be Editor of Real Business.

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