Speculation in the City over Young's Seafood sale
SALE PROCESS? Young's Seafood's private equity owners are understood to be looking to sell Grimsby's biggest private employer.
By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 11 Dec 2017
PRIVATE equity owners behind Grimsby’s Young’s Seafood are understood to be exploring a multi-million pound sale.
According to the city desk of news agency Press Association, Lion Capital, Bain Capital and HPS Investment Partners (UK) are working with boutique investment house Stamford Partners on a potential exit.
The Ross House company has a history dating back 200 years, and last year recorded a turnover of £496.5 million, with earnings of £21.2 million.
Young’s was acquired by its current owners from CapVest in 2008, then headed up by Wynne Griffiths CBE, as part of a £1.1 billion takeover that also included the Findus brands.
Lion broke up the operation in 2015, striking a £500 million deal to sell the European arm of Findus to Birds Eye-owner Nomad Foods, leaving it with the Young's operation in the UK.
It has seen major consolidation of the English operations into Grimsby, where more than 1,700 people are now employed across three major manufacturing bases and the iconic head office. A further 1,300 are employed at sites in Scotland. Seveeral have followed Mr Griffiths’ tenure at the helm, with Bill Showalter the current boss, having taken over from internal appointment Pete Ward in summer 2016.
There has been speculation about the level of debt within the business, with concerns rebutted by the company in the spring. It related to loans that were expiring, combined with a currency squeeze.
As reported, Young’s is in the midst of a US expansion drive after partnering with Pennsylvania-based frozen fish supplier The Fishin’ Company to launch seven new products into the American market.
The firm, which was founded by Elizabeth Young and her family in London in 1805, not only has a strong branded presence, but also supplies own-label seafood to retailers.
Any deal for the business would come at a crucial time for the UK industry, as it awaits clarity on how Brexit negotiations will impact the sector, with fishing and processing elements having very differing needs.
Grimsby rival Seachill was bought by British meat specialist Hilton Food Group last month, with senior management welcoming the £81 million acquisition from the Icelandic owners.
Young’s Seafood, Lion Capital and HPS have declined to comment, with Bain Capital and Stamford Partners not immediately available.
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