Natural Balance Foods, the group behind the Nakd and Trek brands, has been taken over by a Belgian biscuit and cake manufacturer to help it grow its products internationally.
The healthy snack bar maker has sold a 67% stake to Lotus Bakeries for a price believed to be around the £60m mark – although the terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Natural Balance founders Jamie and Greg Combs will continue to run the company having kept “most of their shares”, with Lotus buying out the stakes of external, non-active investors.
The brothers appointed specialist corporate advisory firm Stamford Partners earlier this year to seek an outside investor to continue its rapid growth.
An official statement said there was a clear agreement that the DNA of the brands would be kept unchanged under the new partnership.
Over the past three years, Natural Balance has grown sales threefold as soaring consumer demand for healthier snacks helped shift more from its range of 90 products sold under the Nakd and Trek banners.
Revenues at the group jumped 77% to £13.3m in the year to 31 March 2014 with pre-tax profits of £1.3m, according to the latest available accounts at Companies House. Sources indicated the top line had increased to £20m in the 2014-15 financial year, with forecasts of adding another £10m in the 12 months to the end of March 2016.
Latest Nielsen figures show Nakd is now worth £25m – adding £4m in the past quarter alone and £11.3m over the year [Nielsen 52 weeks to 23 May].
“Over a decade ago we founded Natural Balance Foods with the dream of a ‘wholefood revolution’, where natural, delicious and affordable snacks would be mainstream and loved around the world,” said Jamie and Greg Combs.
“This strategic partnership will be enormously helpful in that important effort and we are delighted to have Lotus by our side. Lotus can assist significantly in international expansion, whilst supporting our passionate commitment to the principles and purpose of our company, brands and products.”
Lotus Bakeries, best known in the UK for its caramelised Biscoff biscuits, has a presence across the world with manufacturing facilities in Belgium, the Netherlands, France and Sweden and own sales organisations in ten European countries, the US, Hong Kong, China, South Korea and Chile. It employs 1,281 staff and generated a turnover of €347.9m in 2014.
Lotus CEO Jan Boone added: “As a group, Lotus has always traditionally focused mainly on the indulgent segment of biscuits and snacking. Additionally, we recognise there is a massive, growing demand for healthy, unprocessed and tasty alternatives.
“The Nakd and Trek brands, which are complementary to our current product and brand portfolio, will enable Lotus Bakeries to have the right product and brand offering for 21st-century consumers.”
The Combs brothers started the business in 2004 and have been backed by business angels for the past 10 years. They said Natural Balance would utilise Lotus’ multiple sales offices worldwide to gain access to new markets outside the UK.
Lotus was advised by PwC (accounting and tax), DLA Piper (legal) and Bain & Company (commercial). Natural Balance was advised by Stamford Partners (financial), KPMG (accounting) and Eversheds (legal).