Urban Fresh Foods, the parent company behind the Bear and Urban Fruit brands, is in talks with advisers with a view to international expansion.
The fruit snack business has been growing rapidly since it launched almost six years ago and is now ready to branch out overseas.
Urban Fresh is currently reviewing whether it will seek external investment to expand or if it has the resources to fund international growth in-house.
Bear, which won SME Food & Drink Brand of the Year at the 2013 Grocer Gold Awards, was set up, along with Urban Fruit by founders Andrew and Hayley Gait-Golding, with former Innocent Drinks commercial director Giles Brook investing and partnering with the pair in September 2009. The business has been self-funded without any backing from private equity.
The two brands now have listings in all the major UK supermarkets, as well as online with Ocado and Amazon, and in independents and high street retailers such as Holland & Barrett, Boots and Wilkinsons.
Bear has tapped growing demand for natural, healthy foods - particularly for children - and has been tipped by a number of dealmakers as a prime contender for a 2015 sale. “It is bang in the sweet spot for snacking companies that want something not full of sugar,” said a City source.
While Urban Fresh Foods is not for sale, Natural Balance Foods, the snacking business behind the Nakd and Trek brands, is currently receiving final bids on a sale process handled by corporate financiers at Stamford Partners, and a deal is set to complete within the next few weeks.
A multiple asking price of 20x EBITDA - valuing the business at £50m - means a trade buyer is considered more likely than a private equity investor.