Chicken Tonight owner Symington's bought in £53m deal by Italian manufacturer

Italian food manufacturer Newlat Food has bought Chicken Tonight owner Symington’s in a deal worth £53m.

Angelo Mastrolia, chairman of Newlat (left) with David Cox, chief executive of Symington's.
Angelo Mastrolia, chairman of Newlat (left) with David Cox, chief executive of Symington's.

Listed on the Italian Stock Exchange, Newlat produces milk and milk products, pasta and baked goods, gluten-free and protein-free products and baby food. It has 1,500 employees across 14 production plants in Italy and one in Germany and posted revenues of 517 euros (£440m) in 2020.

Leeds-based Symington’s, which was founded in 1827, makes snacks and meals for supermarkets and convenience stores both in the UK and internationally.

Employing around 900 people, the company’s brands include Mug Shot, Naked (Naked Noodle, Naked Rice, Naked Soups), Twistd, The Hungry Elephant, Chicken Tonight and Ragu. It is a major player in the instant hot snacks category which is worth more than £385m at annual retail sales value. The company also produces retailer brand products across a number of growing categories.

Symington’s has manufacturing and distribution centres spread over two locations in Leeds (offices, warehouse and distribution and dry meals facility), one in Bradford (producing croutons and bread snacks) and another in Durham (a wet meals retort facility).

Angelo Mastrolia, chairman of Newlat, said: “We are happy to announce the acquisition of Symington’s. This is an interesting business with high potential for growth and we deem it to be a perfect fit into our strategic plan. We see a number of synergies between our businesses as we both produce complementary but different categories of products.

“Not only will there be significant cost synergies but also, this acquisition allows us to enlarge and diversify our product range and our geographical reach. This opportunity enables us to set foot into the UK and thus consolidate our position in this extremely relevant market.

“We are ready to invest in the business and to support its international expansion.”

David Cox, chief executive at Symington’s, added: “This is fantastic news for us. Newlat wants to invest in our business and our brands. It provides long-term security for our business with an international ambient and dairy food player operating in mutually beneficial categories and is an exciting time for us both.

“By bringing together both businesses we can combine our strengths, accelerate our growth and increase our global footprint. Symington’s provides a strong springboard for Newlat’s brands into the UK market and Newlat gives us further opportunities for us to grow our brands internationally where Newlat has operations – in Italy and Germany.”

Symington’s reported a 4.2 per cent rise in sales to £114m in the year to August 2020 and an 17.5 per cent uplift on earnings before tax, interest, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) to £9.6m.