A NORTH East snack-maker which produces Hula Hoops, KP Nuts and Skips has been sold to a German firm in a deal thought to be worth more than £500m.
KP Snacks, which has factories in Consett and Billingham, will come under the ownership of Intersnack after being put up for sale by McVitie’s and Jacob’s owner United Biscuits.
Subject to completion next year, the factories will join the UK savoury snacks business of Intersnack, which makes Pom-Bear crisps and Penn State pretzels at Tanfield Lea in County Durham.
With turnover currently around £80m, Intersnack has expanded substantially in the past three years through a combination of organic growth and acquisition.
Headquartered in County Durham, the UK arm of the business also has manufacturing sites at Corby and Haverhill and employs around 400 people.
Around 1,500 people work for Middlesex-based KP Snacks, which is the UK’s second-largest snack-maker,
United, which is owned by private equity firms Blackstone and PAI Partners, will retain the baked bagged snacks brands manufactured in its biscuit factories, including Mini Cheddars and Twiglets.
Other brands in the KP Snacks business sold include Wheat Crunchies, Skips, Brannigans and Cheese Footballs.
Including KP Snacks, United employs around 8,000 people, 7,000 of them in the UK. Intersnack was founded in 1968 and is on track for record sales of £1.4bn this year.
Maarten Leerdam, executive chairman of Intersnack, said the company appreciated the “significance of acquiring a part of British heritage”.
He said: “We are very pleased to be teaming up with KP Snacks, which represents a strong and highly complimentary fit with the Intersnack family of leading businesses throughout Europe.
“Intersnack is a strong believer in the power of iconic, local hero brands, and we aim to leverage these strengths for further expansion.
“As a privately owned company, we operate our business with a long-term view. As such, the joint know-how of KP Snacks and Intersnack will drive the development of these iconic brands.”
United was bought by the private equity firms for £1.6bn in 2006 and has been the subject of sale speculation in the last couple of years.
It dates back to 1948, when it was formed from the merger of two Scottish family businesses – McVitie & Price and MacFarlane Lang.
Talks with several big groups, including China’s Bright Foods, Kellogg’s and Kraft Foods, failed to drum up a credible bid in 2010, prompting its owners to consider splitting the business into two.
The UK market is the largest snack market in Europe and further expansion on British soil remains a key priority for Intersnack.
Leerdam said: “The proposed transaction reflects our goal to accelerate the transformation of Intersnack’s strategic position in the UK.
“We look forward to working with the existing KP Snacks management team and employees to leverage this opportunity.”