Premium pet food and accessories group Armitage Pet Care has been taken over by private equity firm Rutland Partners for an undisclosed price.
The Nottingham-based business, which has a turnover of about £45m and has held a Royal Warrant since 1976, is one of the largest independent manufacturers and suppliers of premium, branded pet treats and accessories in the UK.
It supplies more than 2,000 products across the dog, cat, small domestic pets, bird and fish categories to a broad customer base, including the major supermarkets and pet specialist retailers. The GoodBoy premium dog treats brand is part of Armitage’s portfolio.
Under the leadership of CEO Paul Bousfield, Armitage has outperformed a growing market in recent years by tapping market trends such as the “humanisation of pets” and premiumisation of pet products, a statement by Rutland said.
The PE house, which has invested in a number of retail and consumer goods business, including Bernard Matthews, added Armitage represented “an exciting scale opportunity” to support and invest behind the incumbent management team and to build on current expansion plans.
Further investment in infrastructure of the business, including brand support, new product development and IT is planned under the new ownership.
“We are proud of developing Armitage into a high-quality treats and accessories business that has significantly changed the shape of the pet category,” Bousfield said.
“We are delighted to be partnering with Rutland who we are confident will be able to support us in our ambitious plans for the next phase of growth.”
Rutland partner Ben Slatter added: “Armitage has built a strong position in a growing market and is well positioned for future growth. We are looking forward to supporting the management team and working with them to further develop the business over the coming years.”
It is the latest deal in the active premium petcare market as investors look to capitalise on the continuing trend of pet owners spending more on high quality products for their dogs or cats. PE firms have taken stakes in Lily’s Kitchen, Applaws and Encore maker MPM Products, Pet Food UK and Forthglade in the past couple of years.
The overall pet market in the UK is worth £8.2bn a year and has shown steady growth over the past ten years of 4.4% a year. Within this, the UK dog treat market was worth £434m in 2016 and is expected to grow at 4% to 5% per annum from 2017.
Catalyst Corporate Finance advised Rutland on the deal. The corporate finance advisory firm has completed 18 transactions so far this year, with six in the consumer sector.
Catalyst’s team included Simon Peacock, Alex Silk and Matthew Lee and the debt advisory team was led by Guy Taylor.
Simon Peacock, director and head of food and drink at Catalys, said: “Armitage is a fantastic story of a UK business with a heritage spanning nearly 200 years, that has grown to become a market leader in its niche despite increased competition from overseas companies in this sector.
“The pet food sector is growing at a steady rate and we are seeing much interest from private equity players as well as trade buyers, who wish to invest in this space. Armitage has created a strong brand within the dog treats category and the company is well placed for future growth.”