Greencore’s hunger for a transformational deal was finally sated today, with the news that it has bagged Uniq for £113m.
After emerging red-faced from its aborted deal for Northern Foods – a failed bid that cost it more than €13m – the Irish convenience food giant has taken steps not to be stung twice.
It has secured an “irrevocable commitment” from Angel Street – set up to administer the 90% stake in Uniq held by the company’s pension scheme – to sell up.
“Even if they were to get a higher offer on the table, we can’t be derailed by a higher bid,” Greencore chief financial officer Alan Williams said today.
Greencore still requires competition clearance from the UK and Ireland, but this is unlikely to prove problematic. And it’s already well on the way to getting the shareholder approval it needs, with 37% support in the bag already. It hopes to complete the deal by the end of September.
The appeal of a tie-up is obvious. Less than 1% of Greencore’s revenues currently come from Marks & Spencer. The swoop on Uniq will see it become one of the high street giant’s top five suppliers – and add 30% to Greencore’s revenues.
It also expects to reap savings of £10m from supply chain efficiencies and cutting overlapping overheads – presumably starting with Uniq’s desolate HQ in Gerrards Cross. The jury’s out on what Patrick Coveney and his team will do with Uniq’s everyday desserts business – but doubtless he will look to curb losses swiftly.
Premier Foods will be looking on glumly. Its struggling subsidiary RF Brookes Avana may have featured on Greencore’s shopping list. After today, the pool of prospective buyers is that much smaller – and the task even harder for whoever takes over from Robert Schofield.
Perhaps Uniq chief executive Geoff Eaton – who skillfully hurdled the company’s pension crisis and will step down following the sale to Greencore – has one more magic act left in him.