Kings Elite meat snacks

Kings, which produces wagyu biltong listed in Sainsbury’s and Asda, recorded £5m in sales last year

Rapidly growing UK meat snacks brand Kings Elite has been bought for a figure north of £20m by an Australia-based entrepreneur.

The biltong and jerky brand, listed in most major UK multiples, was launched by professional rugby-playing brothers Charlie, Mark and James Simpson-Daniel alongside Mike Tindall, in 2014, before a majority stake was bought by Australian-owned New World Foods in 2015.

The group has now sold the entirety of the York-based business to Australian petfood tycoon and motorsport fanatic Tony Quinn.

The Scottish-born entrepreneur, who made his fortune after selling VIP Petfood for $410m (£312m) to PE buyers 21 years after launching the brand, has bought the meat snacking business in a deal understood to be worth around £30m.

Quinn has already committed to investing £1m immediately into the supplier, with hopes to rapidly grow Kings Elite internationally. Coinciding with the takeover, the brand has now launched in Costco in Australia, where Quinn plans to invest in the business to rapidly grow distribution.

Kings, which produces wagyu biltong listed in Sainsbury’s and Asda, recorded £5m in sales last year. It expects this to double this financial year.

The manufacturer employs more than 50 full-time staff at its premises near York, with plans to increase recruitment in the next six months.

Previous managing director Charlie Simpson-Daniel has been bought out of the company with his business partners, but will stay as general manager at the supplier.

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The former owners had rebuffed previous acquisition advances, but the Australian businessman fell in love with the brand and after an “aggressive pursuit” secured the deal.

“He had a look at Kings and said he feels it’s a diamond in the rough and can become a global leader in meat snacking,” Simpson-Daniel said.

“The first thing he has done is decide that we need to increase capacity and he has just signed off on over £1m in expenditure to do that, and we are quadrupling our production capability.

“There was quite a lot of interest in the business because of our growth. The growth has been fantastic, with increases in listings but also great rates of sale. It’s at the point now where, in unit sales, we have just become the number one selling brand in the UK.

“Now, Tony essentially wants to take meat snacking global and sees Kings as the brand to do that with.”

Quinn is considered a buy-and-build specialist, with past ventures including Australian liquorice company Darrell Lea which he sold to PE for $200m, six years after buying it out of administration for $25m.