Food logistics group NFT Distribution has acquired temperature controlled distribution business NR Evans to strengthen its offering in the chilled, ambient and dairy fmcg supply chain.

The deal, which includes integrated debt funding of up to £13 million from the growth and acquisition finance department of Investec, values the business at more than £20m.

It represents the third acquisition in the UK logistics market in the past year by Hong Kong-based private equity investor EmergeVest, which bought a controlling stake in NFT in 2014.

NFT, which delivers to all the big four grocers, as well as M&S, Waitrose, Co-op and the discounters and symbol groups, has group turnover of more than £200m and combined workforce of about 3,000 staff.

The acquisition of NR Evans (Holdings), which delivers £500m of chilled product annually, increased the total number of NFT distribution centres in the UK by nine to 17.

“We believe that the combination will not only create a considerable increase in scale, reach, and infrastructure, but also results in the emergence of NFT as a business with an increased international focus on grocery supply chains,” NFT CEO David Frankish said.

EmergeVest MD Heath Zarin added that the deal showed the private equity firm’s appetite for UK transactions following the leave vote in the EU referendum.

“We are very excited about NFT’s domestic and international growth prospects and ability to provide an ever-expanding suite of leading edge services,” he said. “This acquisition will not be our last and demonstrates EmergeVest’s confidence in the UK market as an investment proposition post Brexit.”

He added NFT was well positioned to expand its service offering within the UK and into new overseas markets.

The acquisition will be finalised in the coming weeks.