TRS Foods

TRS Foods was started in London by Taherally Suterwalla in 1959

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Private equity investor Exponent is understood to be closing on a deal to buy Asian foods wholesale specialist TRS Group.

The Grocer understands the PE firm is in exclusive talks after topping an auction for the family-owned wholesaler last month.

The ingredients and cash & carry business hired Stamford Partners last year to eye up potential buyers, as it looked to capitalise on booming interest for Asian foods.

The £109m-turnover supplier, which also runs two London-based cash & carries, was started in London by Taherally Suterwalla in 1959, and is now led by his five sons.

City sources cautioned that discussions remain at a sensitive stage and a deal has not yet been formally agreed.

The discussions are Exponent’s latest attempt to invest in the food sector, after it made a “strategic investment” in dairy group Meadow Foods in August 2018.

The Southall-based supplier saw sales jump 2.2% to £109.3m for the year ended 31 December 2017, while pre-tax profits increased 27% to £8.7m.

Read the full story on The Grocer’s finance page later today

Morning update

After pretty hectic week for FTSE announcements, it’s become fairly quiet for once, with very little of note in the sector this morning.

Bar chain Revolution has dropped its profit forecasts and put new openings on hold amid “challenging” post-Christmas trading conditions.

Like-for-like sales fell 4% for the half-year ended 29 December 2018, although total sales rose 6.4% to £78.5m.

Sales have slowed during the current financial year, with like-for-like sales falling by 7.3% in the eight weeks 23 February as it was impacted by the timing of Valentine’s Day and half-term holidays.

The group, which operates 79 bars in the UK, Revolucion de Cuba chain had maintained growth but its Revolution bars had slumped on the back of a “lack of investment”.

“Revolution has been reviewed, the issues identified, and workstreams are being implemented to restore it to growth,” commented CEO Rob Pitcher.

“Our confidence in achieving this is underpinned by the good performance of the new Revolution venues, while the recently refurbished sites are also seeing uplifts.

“We have therefore decided to prioritise the refurbishment programme over new openings. We expect trading to improve as we come up against softer comparatives for the rest of the financial year.”

Distribution giant Wincanton (WIN) has announced it has successfully renewed major new contracts with petrol supplier Valero and tile business Marley Ltd.

“We’ve been working with Valero for more than 25 years. In that time, we’ve built up a strong partnership with Valero and developed a real understanding of the needs of its customers,” commented CEO Adrian Colman.

“Extending our working relationship with Marley is validation of our expertise in servicing this business up and down the UK with complex transportation requirements.”

The FTSE 100 has jumped up again this morning, rising 0.5% to 7,107pts following optimism about the Chinese market.

The early risers this morning include B&M European (BME), up 3.1% to 364.7p, Bakkavor (BAKK), up 1% to 146.5p, and BAT, up 1% to 2,786p.

The fallers this morning include Stock Spirit Group (STCK), up 4.6% to 219p, PayPoint (PAY), up 1.4% to 857.9p, and Premier Foods (PFD), up 1.2% to 38.9p.

Yesterday in the city

The FTSE 100 opened lower, dropping 0.5% to 7,074pts, after worse-than-predicted Chinese manufacturing data weighed down on the index.

In the food and drink sector, alcohol giant AB Inbev (ABI) rose 4% to €68.5 after it revealed 4.8% annual sales growth, driven by efforts to premiumise its portfolio.

In the UK, another major riser was Marks & Spencer (MKS), which recovered slightly, rising 2.9% to 273p after investors reacted badly to the full details of its joint venture with Ocado.

Other risers included Real Good Food (RGF), up 4.2% to 6.5p, Just Eat (JE.), up 3% to 746.4p, and Premier Foods (PFD), up 2.2% to 39.3p.

The biggest faller in the sector was private label supplier Bakkavor (BAKK), which sank 10.3% to 145p after it revealed that start-up costs for its international businesses impacted its profits.

Other fallers included Devro (DVO), down 3.3% to 178p, Greencore (GNC), down 2.9% to 196p, and McColl’s (MCLS), down 2.2% to 56.6p.