Top story

Plant-based food producer Gosh is eyeing a potential sale after hiring advisors, as investor interest in vegan products continues to surge. 

The Grocer understands the supplier has hired corporate finance firm Houlihan Lokey to “consider strategic options”, including the possibility of a sale, minority investor or refinancing.

Gosh produces vegan chilled produce including burgers, sausages and bakes, and is listed in Morrisons, Tesco and Sainsbury’s.

City sources say the Milton Keynes-based supplier “could fetch more than £50m” in a sale situation, amid a clamour of interest from PE and trade investors. 

Gosh has seen a period of rapid growth, surging from £5m of sales in 2015/16 to forecasts of £18m of sales for the current financial year.

The potential sale is the latest opportunity for investment in meat-free suppliers, after ‘bleeding burger’ creator Beyond Meat filed for an IPO earlier this week. 

Check out later this morning for the full story.

Morning update

The Grocer this week carries stories on the latest on industry stockpiling, two ‘skinny’ alcohol brands are looking to raise expansion capital to cash in on growing demand for healthier booze alternatives and how upmarket retailer and deli business Sourced Market is to drive forward with rapid expansion plans after completing a £750k equity fundraise. 

Click on later this morning for all these stories and more.

Elsewhere this morning, UK-listed agri services group Origin Enterprises has posted a 24% jump in first quarter revenues.

Group sales were €430m for the three months to 31 October compared to €346.7m in the corresponding period last year.

On an underlying basis at constant currency, revenue increased by 18%, reflecting higher seed, crop protection and fertiliser volumes and prices in the period.

Underlying volume growth in agronomy services and crop inputs (excluding crop marketing volumes) was 13.7% in the period.

Ireland and the UK delivered a “good performance” recording underlying volume growth in agronomy services and crop inputs of 14.4% in the period. In particular, this performance was supported by seasonal timing and volume contribution from the Bunn fertiliser business which it acquired last year.

Continental Europe delivered a “satisfactory performance”, with underying volume growth in agronomy services and crop inputs (excluding crop marketing volumes) of 11.9%. Operating conditions “continue to be challenging” due to poor crop establishment in respect of winter oil seeds resulting in cautious on-farm sentiment.

Origin stated: “The performance achieved in the first quarter of the year represents a positive start to the financial year for the group, supported by steadily improving sentiment on-farm.

“The autumn and winter cropping profile in our Ireland/UK and Continental European geographies provides a good foundation for the seasonally more important second half of the year. The Group’s newly acquired operations in Latin America will result in additional contribution in the first half of the Origin year, with solid progress on plantings providing an encouraging start to the year.”

The FTSE 100 has bounced back 0.4% to 6,985.2pts so far this morning.

Early risers include Ocado (OCDO), up 1.6% to 761.6p, Tesco (TSCO), up 1.2% to 203.6p, PayPoint (PAY), up 1% to 780p and WH Smith (SMWH), up 1% to 1,958p.

Fallers include Devro (DVO), down 3.8% to 168p, AG Barr (BAG), down 1.5% to 782p and Majestic Wine (WINE), down 1.4% to 317.5p.

Yesterday in the City

The FTSE 100 undid the progress it made on Wednesday, but dropping back 1.3% back to 6,960.3pts.

One of the consumer sector’s major losers was Majestic Wine (WINE), which plunged 14% to 322p after revealing it slumped to a first half loss amid weak performance in its UK retail operations.

A number of FTSE 100 consumer names were also heavily in the red, led by Imperial Tobacco (MB), which fell back 4.6% to 2,456.5p. Also falling were Tesco (TSCO), down 1.5% to 201.3p and Sainsbury’s (SBRY), down 1.4% to 307.6p.

Other fallers included FeverTree (FEVR), down 3.7% to 2,519p, Nichols (NICL), down 3.2% to 1,430p, PZ Cussons (PZC), down 2.5% to 238p, Tate & Lyle (TATE), down 2% to 706.4p and B&M European Value Retail (BME), down 1.9% to 345.3p.

Risers were few and far between, but included Just Eat (JE), up 3.9% to 596.8p, McBride (MCB), up 1.8% to 127.5p and SSP Group (SSPG), which recovered 2.4% from its double-digit fall on Tuesday after the departure of its CEO to 642.7p.