pork farms

PAI Partners has acquired Addo and Winterbotham Darby in a bid to create a leading UK chilled foods group

Pork pie maker Addo Food Group and olives and antipasti supplier Winterbotham Darby have been snapped up in a joint chilled foods acquisition by PAI Partners for an undisclosed sum.

The European private equity firm said the two manufacturers would be brought together to create a platform to accelerate growth opportunities in the chilled food space.

PAI added the deals were part of its ambition to build “the best value-added chilled food company in the UK”.

The sale of Addo, which produces the Pork Farms and Wall’s brands, provides private equity firm LDC with an exit after it bought the business for more than £100m from Vision Capital in April 2017.

As revealed by The Grocer in September, LDC had hired corporate finance advisers to sell the business, with an expected a price tag of £200m-plus following strong growth under its ownership.

Addo will continue to be led by its existing management team, including CEO Deborah Bolton, who took over from long-time boss Chris Peters in 2019.

The business, which can trace its history back more than 160 years, produces more than 250 million packs of branded and private label sausage rolls, pork pies, scotch eggs and quiches every year. It employs more than 2,500 staff across five UK sites.

“The sale follows three years of successful investment from LDC,” Bolton said. “They have been a great supporter of our group since 2017 and their investment and backing has been demonstrated in the growth we have seen under their tenure.

“We are excited as a management team and looking forward to working with our new investor, PAI Partners, to deliver our plans over the coming months and years.”

Winterbotham Darby, headquartered in Surrey, is best known for supplying own-label olives, antipasti and continental meats to the supermarkets and foodservice industry.

Earlier this year it finished a multimillion refit of its Bicester site into a dedicated plant-based factory. The company also owns the Squeaky Bean, Unearthed and Vadasz brands.

Current owners Equistone and minority shareholders LDC will exit the business, while the existing management team will remain invested and continue to run the company.

CEO Steven Higginson said: “We have enjoyed a very successful partnership with Equistone, which has supported us to significantly enhance our presence in the UK grocery market and establish Winterbotham Darby within a number of new, fast-growing chilled food segments.

“We are excited to be entering the next phase of our development with PAI Partners’ support, where our focus will remain on providing outstanding service and an innovative range of high-quality products to our valued customers.” 

The two combined business acquired by PAI currently have turnover of more than £500m.

Headquartered in France, PAI Partners counts a raft of food and consumer companies in its portfolio, including drinks bottler Refresco, ice cream maker Froneri and Wessanen, which owns the Clipper, Whole Earth and Kallo brands.

The firm manages €13.9bn of dedicated buyout funds and, since 1994, has completed 75 transactions in 11 countries, representing more €50bn in transaction value.

Addo management were advised by Spayne Lindsay and Browne Jacobson, providing M&A and legal advice respectively. Houlihan Lokey acted as the exclusive corporate finance advisor to the shareholders of Winterbotham Darby. Stamford Partners advised PAI Partners.