R&R Ice Cream will double in size and compete head on with Unilever’s ice cream brands, claimed CEO and executive chairman James Lambert, after acquiring Lancashire-based Fredericks Dairies for £49m this week.
The £45m-sales family-owned Fredericks Dairies, which holds the UK licence to ice creams under the Cadbury, Del Monte, Vimto, Britvic and Barratt’s brands, will “complete the jigsaw”, said Lambert.
“We’re very excited. Unilever will still be 7% bigger in the take home market but we’re a much stronger number two than we would be apart.”
Dovetailing with R&R’s lolly, pot and tub brands - including Nestle’s Fab, Aero and Rowntrees, as well as Kelly’s, Del Monte, Skinny Cow and Yoo Moo - R&R would be able to grow the impulse business “substantially” by occupying more freezer cabinets- an area it had previously struggled to infiltrate given its lack of chocolate and premium cone products - and go head to head with Unilever’s Magnum, Cornetto and Solero.
With a bigger sales force and R&R’s expertise in category management “we hope to double Fredericks, and double total sales in the next five years,” claimed Lambert.
“We’ve gained great experience in brand licensing in Continental Europe which we can apply in the UK with the Fredericks licences.”
In addition to existing Cadbury ice cream products such as Dairy Milk Sticks and Flake 99 cone, R&R would develop new lines, Lambert promised. “We’ve carried out a lot of research and found some innovative products. I know they’re going to sell. We wanted to have the same licences for the UK so we could take that knowledge and develop it for UK consumers. This completes the jigsaw.”
Last month, R&R signed a brand licensing deal with Disney, and recently launched Mondelez brands, including Milka cones and Oreo ice cream sandwiches, in 10 Western European countries.
“It’s a great opportunity,” Lambert added, “and we’re proud Frank (Frederick) allowed us to take over his business, which he has built up so fantastically over the last 30 years.”
With sales increasing from €170m (£145m) in 2006 to €750m this year, R&R is also Europe’s biggest own-label ice cream manufacturer. Private equity owners Oaktree have put it up for sale with a €1bn pricetag.