KTC is a major supplier of sunflower oil to UK retailers

Oils and canned produce specialist KTC Edibles has been acquired by UK private equity player Endless following a process first revealed by The Grocer.

The Grocer reported in February that the West Midlands-based ambient food and drink supplier had appointed corporate finance house Oghma Partners to explore a sale.

Mid-market PE player Endless has won the race for the UK’s largest supplier of edible oils, previously family-owned and now boasting a turnover of over £400m.

Endless said the deal would provide additional capital to support the company’s ambitious growth plans through further development of its operations, range and service offerings.

Paresh Mehta, shareholder and current MD of KTC, will continue to lead the business.

“While it is business as usual, we are excited by the opportunities new ownership will bring and we look forward to continuing our rapid growth and development,” Mehta said.

The group supplies over 250 million litres of oil a year to manufacturers, retailers and wholesalers across the UK and globally.

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

The deal is the latest foray into British food suppliers by Endless, adding to its portfolio that includes Hovis, Bright Blue Foods and Yorkshire Premier Meat.

“We are thrilled to have been given the opportunity to acquire KTC,” said Aidan Robson, partner at Endless.

“Through its strong relationships with suppliers and customers, KTC has demonstrated its importance to the UK food industry at a time of increasing volatility across the global food market. We look forward to supporting Paresh and the wider KTC team as we build upon the excellent platform laid down by the founding family.”

City dealmakers had previously suggested that the global volatility in the oils category, following the war in Ukraine and supply constraints, could be a stumbling block in getting a deal away for KTC.

KTC itself stopped all new sunflower oil sales in March due to the impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Writing in The Grocer earlier this month, KTC head of business, oils and fats Gary Lewis said the Ukraine war had been “arguably one of the most significant disruptions to the market we’ve seen in recent times” and that “ramifications on the world vegetable oil markets have been severe”.

He said the situation would lead to increased planting in the EU, UK and other producers this year, but it would still take many months for it to have any impact on the market and “supply shortages will continue for the foreseeable future”.

Before the current crisis, KTC 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 and shift into food manufacturing.

When The Grocer broke news of the KTC sales process, an industry source called the supplier a “formidable operator” with a “strong branded presence with lots of distribution in the ethnic channel and in foodservice”.

The source suggested a likely buyer could be a private equity player looking to build a wider platform in UK food and drink manufacturing by potentially putting together complementary businesses.