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Exponent Private Equity completes £205 million acquisition and creates Quorn Foods

Posted: 7 March 2011 | Citigate Dewe Rogerson | No comments yet

The new company aims to create the world’s leading meat-alternative business….

The new company aims to create the world’s leading meat-alternative business....

Today marks the completion of the acquisition by Exponent Private Equity (“Exponent”) of the Meat-free business of Premier Foods plc for £205 million and the creation of a new international food company, Quorn Foods.

Headquartered in Stokesley, North Yorkshire, Quorn Foods makes and markets Quorn, the UK’s No.1 meat alternative brand, and Cauldron, the UK’s No.1 tofu brand. The new company aims to create the world’s leading meat-alternative business. Quorn is already sold in ten countries worldwide, including a rapidly growing business in the US.

Under Exponent’s ownership, the business will be led by senior grocery marketers. Kevin Brennan, the former Marketing Director and General Manager at Kellogg’s who joined Premier Foods last year to head the meat-free division, becomes CEO of the new business. He will be supported by Clive Sharpe as Chairman. Clive, former CEO of Golden Wonder, has considerable experience in running food businesses with private equity backing.

Simon Davidson of Exponent commented: “We have invested in Quorn Foods because of the very prominent position of its brands within the UK market and its strong international growth potential. We’re backing the management team’s plans to grow the business in the UK and internationally via investment in advertising and new product development, as well as through capital expenditure and infrastructure improvements.”

Chris Wragg, Quorn Foods marketing director, said: “This renewed investment will further drive growth in the meat-free category. We are already seeing encouraging growth in 2011*, with Quorn growing well ahead of the category. This is the result of strong and consistent TV support, and innovation including the extension of the ready meal range in January, with more to follow through Spring.”

Quorn is currently being supported by an exclusively TV campaign of over £4m in the UK, eschewing current trends towards digital and social media plans. The creative focuses on the health credentials of the brand, showing how a simple change from regular mince to Quorn mince can reduce the fat content of their favourite, everyday meals by up to 75%.

Quorn is well positioned to capitalise upon trends in healthy eating. It is made using the proprietary technology of mycoprotein that uniquely delivers the taste and texture of meat to the increasing number of consumers who have chosen to reduce their meat consumption while looking to retain a normal, healthy diet. Quorn products are also often significantly lower in fat and calories than many meat equivalents and are a good source of protein and fibre.

In 2010 Quorn Foods had a turnover of £128.8 million and an operating profit of £16.1 million. The company has around 600 employees on three UK manufacturing sites: Stokesley in North Yorkshire, Belasis on Teesside and Methwold in Norfolk.

* Source: Meat-free category growth +3.7% 4 w/e 19/2/11 IRI

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