Chilled food manufacturer Samworth Brothers has made its first acquisition in nearly 30 years buying malted loaf brand Soreen from the McCambridge Group for an undisclosed sum.

The deal follows a turnaround in the fortunes of Soreen, which has seen sales rise 47.8% over the past two years, from £19.4m to £28.8m [IRI 25 January 2014].

Since Barclays Ventures became a major shareholder in October 2008, the previously loss making McCambridge has invested £6m in Soreen, adding food-to-go and breakfast products and extending its ambient lines into the chilled counter with pre-buttered snack packs. McCambridge also disposed of its own-label cake business in December 2012 and changed its name to Bright Blue Foods in November 2013.

Samworth Brothers, which is primarily a chilled supplier, said the brand “fitted well” with the rest of its portfolio. Although it was tight-lipped on its plans, it confirmed Soreen would be run autonomously under a newly created company called Gibbs Croft.

Simon Webber, chairman of McCambridge said the move was the culmination of a successful turnaround of the McCambridge business and a “very positive” strategic opportunity.

“Soreen is the final chapter in the excellent turnaround and growth story at the McCambridge Group, culminating in the sale of Soreen following a series of other exits of businesses from within the Group,” he said.

Simon Peacock, director and head of Catalyst’s consumer team who led the deal alongside managing partner Andy Currie, added:

“Heritage and Independent brands are a high growth area of the food and drink market and from our work it is obvious that there is likely to be a continued high level of M&A in 2014 and beyond. This is an excellent opportunity for Soreen and will allow the team to develop the business as it enters the next exciting phase of its growth.”