Unilever’s sale of its £6 billion spreads division looks set to begin in earnest after two of America’s biggest private equity firms teamed up to make an offer. Sky News revealed that Clayton Dubilier & Rice and Bain Capital have begun working together on an offer for the Anglo-Dutch consumer goods group’s spreads business, which it has outlined plans to offload (Sky News). The consortium are unlikely to have the field to themselves, with many of the big buyout firms likely to look over the spreads business in coming weeks (The Times £).
The rapid growth of premium drinks brand Fever-Tree shows no sign of slowing as the posh tonic maker upgraded its profits forecasts following a 77% spike in revenues (The Telegraph). Fevertree defied recent scepticism over its ability to maintain its remarkable growth record by predicting yesterday that its full-year results would be “materially ahead of expectations” (The Times £). Someone who invested £1,000 when the firm floated at 134p in 2014 would be sitting on shares worth £15,358 today (The Daily Mail). Despite its rapid rise, Fever-Tree said it was not considering moving from Aim to London’s main stock market. “They are very happy on Aim, it allows them to remain entrepreneurial,” a spokesperson for the company said (The Financial Times £).
British households hit by recent food price hikes have been given respite by a slowdown in grocery inflation, new research shows. Fresh figures from Kantar Worldpanel show that food price inflation has levelled out at 3.2%, the same rate of increase as this time last month (The Telegraph).
Britons have downed £158m more alcohol in the last three months compared with 2016, as they enjoyed sunny weather and a string of major sporting events including Wimbledon, the British and Irish Lions rugby tour and the British Grand Prix. (The Guardian)
PZ Cussons said it was on the hunt for beauty acquisitions to complement its Sanctuary spa and St Tropez tanning ranges, as it reported a 5 per cent increase in full year pre-tax profits. (The Financial Times £)
Cut-price fizzy drinks and premium hamburgers smothered in guacamole, Dijon mustard and BBQ sauce have helped to lift quarterly sales growth at McDonald’s to its highest level in more than five years (The Times £). McDonald’s, facing pressure from increased competition, says it has found a recipe for success in $1 drinks and a new line of high-end hamburgers (The BBC). McDonald’s has reported its best showing for global comparable sales in five years, reassuring investors that the world’s biggest burger chain can keep pace with shifting appetites (The Financial Times £). McDonald’s has clocked up its biggest rise in sales for more than five years in a major boost for its British boss (The Daily Mail).
Domino’s Pizza has launched a service with Amazon’s Alexa that allows customers to order food without touching a button or picking up the phone. (The Daily Mail)
From diapers to toothpaste, Americans’ love affair with big brands is fading fast. Kimberly Clark, the $44bn company behind Huggies nappies and Kleenex, has become the latest consumer goods powerhouse to disappoint amid continued sluggishness in its North American business. (The Financial Times £)
Looking at Reckitt Benckiser’s disposal of its food assets to McCormick last week, the FT’s Lombard column writes: “Reckitt Benckiser has described the sale of its food division for £3.2bn and the purchase of infant formula maker Mead Johnson for £13bn as “significant progress on . . . becoming a more focused consumer health and hygiene business”. But while discarding the maker of French’s Yellow Mustard — a substance more eye-watering in its pigmentation than its piquancy — may improve retinal function, it seems hard to make a case for “focus”. Especially if your product range extends from Enfamil powdered baby milk to Mucinex cough remedies, Vanish stain remover, and Durex condoms.” (The Financial Times £)
Difficulties in its US operations led to sharply slower sales growth at Lindt & Sprüngli in the first half of this year, highlighting the increasing tough global market conditions facing the Swiss premium chocolate maker. (The Financial Times £)