Northern Irish wholesaler J& J Haslett is to be sold by BWG to a management team and rejoin Nisa-Today’s, as the southern Irish distribution group continues to slim its operation.
Haslett MD Peter Kealy revealed that a team of four other directors had brokered a deal which is expected to complete in mid-December.
The team, which is headed by Michael Hamilton, director of
Haslett’s Holmes cash and carry arm, first discussed a possible buy-out with BWG in August, said Kealy.
Hamilton said: “We are delighted with the progress that’s been made. This is an exciting opportunity for J& J Haslett.”
The MBO deal is backed by a bank, rather than a venture capitalist, and includes funds for future investment. “This is a positive move, putting Haslett back into private ownership,” said Kealy. “It will bring a stability to the business.” A new management team, including Tom Uprichard, the delivered business director, Michael Patterson, the trading controller, and Ronnie Lewis, the finance director, plan to rejoin Nisa-Today’s. Kealy said all parts of the £200m turnover business were likely to go over to Nisa-Today’s for supply by mid-January - including its Holmes cash and carries and foodservice arm.
He said: “Nisa-Today’s is one route of bringing scale into the business. It gives access to the Heritage brand and a range of chilled and frozen foods.”
The company left Nisa-Today’s in 1998 as a condition of BWG’s purchase of the English Spar wholesaler Appleby Westward.
Kealy said that as a director of BWG he had not been involved in the sale.
He hopes to be offered a new job within BWG when the transaction completes.
Haslett employs 470 people in Northern Ireland where it owns the Mace franchise. It also runs the Nearbuy and XL Stop and Shop symbol groups plus the Holmes Cash and Carry business. Kealy said that all staff and unions had been notified of the deal.
Since BWG was bought out of Pernod Ricard by its management team it has sold wholesalers T&A Symonds, AR Daunt, EV Saxton and Bellevue.
But group chief executive Leo Crawford said it was committed to the remaining “core” parts of the business - Appleby Westward, the Crewe-based Bargain Booze chain and Spar and Mace in the Republic.
He said: “Haslett is a good business and the sale was not planned. The management team approached us with a proposition that was attractive to us and good for them.”
Anne Bruce