Family-owned oils and canned produce specialist KTC Edibles is understood to have hired advisors to explore a possible sale of the business.

The West Midlands-based ambient food and drink supplier, which boasts revenues of almost £300m, is working with corporate finance house Oghma Partners to explore options, according to multiple market sources.

Both KTC and Oghma said they did not comment on market speculation.

The group was hit by the Covid-induced shutdown of the catering sector in 2020, but came through the early lockdowns with enhanced profitability due to its strong presence in major national supermarkets.

Its most recent accounts for the 2020 financial year show sales edged down from £290m to £284m, but pre-tax profits rose to £10.5m from £7m as it increased retail market share across a number of categories.

KTC also sells to 70 different countries, with non-UK sales of £11.5m and ‘rest of the world’ sales rising from £549k to £2.4m in 2020.

“KTC is a good business and they are formidable operators,” said one industry source.

“Alongside the more commoditised oils, it has a really strong branded presence with lots of distribution in the ethnic channel and in foodservice, but is also really strong in the major supermarkets.”

However, the nature of its product range means the business trades in “a lot of commodity products” and is potentially exposed to current inflationary spikes.

The source suggested this could limit interest as a standalone business and a more likely buyer could be a private equity player looking to build a wider platform in the category and to bolt on complementary businesses, such as Exponent and its drive to build an ethnic foods platform under Vibrant Foods.

Founded in 1972 the company currently today supplies over 250 million litres a year of cooking oils to all sectors of the food industry and is the no.2 player in the retail category.

It has subsequently expanded into adjacent categories such as canned groceries, sauces and condiments, rice and pasta, and beans, pulses and lentils.