Whitworths CEO Peter Utting is embarking on a major expansion of the business following its sale to Equistone Partners last month.

Utting told The Grocer that Equistone, which bought the company for £90m, had backed a five-year plan he and his team devised a year ago. “There’s not a lot of cost-cutting in the plan. We want to become a very focused growth-orientated business,” he said.

Whitworths planned to triple capex to £10m over the next three years and look to make acquisitions in the dried fruit, nuts & seeds sector, he added.

Last month, the company launched a new 30-strong line-up of nuts, seeds & dried fruit for the breakfast market.

Utting said he planned to accelerate NPD and was currently considering ideas including more indulgent snacks for mid-morning and afternoon, and healthy ranges for sportspeople.

He also wanted to grow sales in Ireland, where it launched in Tesco this April and hoped to secure listings with other retailers.

To support the company’s growth agenda, Utting said he intended to recruit another 100 people over the next five years, including 20 commercial staff.