Top story

Premium petfood maker MPM Products has been snapped up by private equity firm ECI for about £50m.

The business, which owns the Applaws and Encore brands of luxury food, was put on the market by co-owners Roger Wood, Roger Coleman and Jon Kinsey.

The Grocer reported in January that the trio had sparked a dogfight between private equity firms after hiring PwC to sell the business, with an asking price of £50m.

ECI is believed to have edged out rival bidders Mayfair Equity Partners and Verlinvest in the second round of the process for a majority stake of MPM.

Sales have soared since MPM formed in 2003, jumping another 17.3% to £29.3m in 2014, with profits more than doubling to £2m, according to the latest available figures.

The business will use the new investment to push harder in overseas markets, which accounts for more than £16m of its revenues.

James Murray, global head of consumer M&A at KPMG, who advised ECI, said: “The pet food market continues to be driven by a number of powerful underlying trends which support the growth, particularly in the premium category. This is attracting significant interest from investors in what is still relatively fragmented industry and we anticipate further consolidation and investment activity.”

Morning update

Also in the pet world, Pets at Home Group has appointed Ian Kellett as CEO to take over from Nick Wood, who has resigned from the retailer. Kellett will take up the reins on 4 April, with Wood remaining on hand in an advisory role until 1 July. Kellett has been a member of the group’s board for the past ten years as CFO and latterly CEO of the retail division. Peter Pritchard has also been promoted from his role of COO in the retail division to CEO.

Russian food retailer X5 has reported revenue growth of 27.6% year-on-year to 808,818 Russian roubles (£8.2m), its fastest growth since 2011, as a record 1,537 new stores were added, compared with 939 in the previous year. Like-for-like sales also increased by 13.7%, and improved across all three of the company’s major formats. The retailer made an operating profit of RUB 34,449 (£350,000) in the year, a rise of 21.8%. CEO Igor Shekhterman said: “X5 delivered on all its strategic priorities in 2015, with each of its brands achieving growth by adapting their value propositions to customers’ needs and streamlining operations. The company has undergone a significant transformation in the last three years, and is now solidly on course to continue fast, sustainable growth in the coming years. Looking forward to 2016, we are in an excellent position to continue this performance.”

The markets have nudged down this morning, with the FTSE 100 slipping 0.1% to 6,185.7 points. Marks & Spencer (MKS) is down 1% to 412.1p in the early going, joined by Morrisons (MRW), down 0.3% to 200.7p, and Tesco (TSCO), down 0.2% to 194.6p. Sainsbury’s (SBRY) has jumped 1.3% so far to 276.8p following it success in the takeover of Argos late Friday evening, with Home Retail Group also up 1.6% to 165.8p after slumping on Friday as a result of Steinhoff pulling out of the race. Other risers this morning on the retail grocery beat include Poundland (PLND), up 1% to 175p, and Greggs (GRG), up 0.6% to 1,094p.

This week in the City

There isn’t much scheduled for grocery on the stock exchange in the run up to Easter apart from the full-year results of Science in Sport tomorrow and a Q3 earnings release from General Mills in the US on Wednesday. In the wider retail sector there are finals from Kingfisher and Game Digital on Wednesday, as well as half-year results from DFS, with Next reporting its preliminary figures on Thursday and ONS Retail Sales for February on the same day.