LDC backs Seabrook management buyout

Jonathan Bye of Seabrooks Photograph by Richard Walker / www.imagenorth.net
Jonathan Bye of Seabrooks Photograph by Richard Walker / www.imagenorth.net
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MID-market private equity house LDC has backed the management buyout of Yorkshire crisp brand Seabrook as the business embarks on a drive to increase its market share.

Established in 1945 by Charles Brook and his son Colin Brook, Seabrook produces a range of crinkle cut, straight cut and premium hand-cooked lattice crisps, as well as low-calorie stick snacks, at its headquarters in Bradford.

The company supplies more than 20 million bags of crisps each month and employs nearly 150 staff.

The management buyout has been led by chief executive Jonathan Bye who has overseen the strong growth of the Seabrook brand since his appointment in 2012. The transaction will see a full exit by owner Ken Brook-Chrispin.

The investment from LDC, which has taken a majority equity stake in the business, will support Seabrook as it looks to invest in its manufacturing infrastructure, new product development and progress international sales opportunities. The team has identified a number of potential acquisition targets which will further enhance the customer offering.

The transaction was led by Dale Alderson, Ged Gould and Simon Braham at LDC.

Mr Alderson said: “We are delighted to be backing the team at Seabrook and supporting the business during the next phase of its development. Having established itself as an iconic food brand, Seabrook has set its sights firmly on accelerating its growth plans and taking further share in Europe’s largest crisp market.

“Our financial, strategic and operational support will bolster a proven and skilled management team, which has already driven impressive growth in the business. We look forward to taking part in that journey and playing our part in bringing Seabrook’s crisps to more households.”

The deal follows LDC’s recent announcement to pledge £1.2bn of capital over the next three years to invest in the UK’s mid-sized companies.

John Garner, head of LDC in Yorkshire and the North East, said: “Our investment in Seabrook highlights LDC’s continued desire to back high quality, regionally based management teams and builds on strong local investment momentum following the recent deals with Adler and Allan and SSP. I am pleased we have been able to back the team at Seabrook given that it has such a strong local heritage and resonance in its Northern heartland.”

Jonathan Bye, chief executive at Seabrook Crisps, said: “LDC’s support for the MBO of Seabrook Crisps is great news and will help us to not only deliver but accelerate our growth plan. It will enable us to invest both in our operations to drive further efficiencies and flexibility and to increase marketing investment to continue to build the brand’s national profile.

“Importantly, this will drive the business forward with the same team that has put our winning brand strategy in place. As the main challenger brand in the category we wanted to keep momentum and the same culture and expertise that helped deliver our growth so far.”

Charlie Barker and Mike Selina from Yorkshire Bank provided senior debt facilities to support the transaction.

Alex Hartley at KPMG advised LDC on the deal, while a team at Pinsent Masons provided legal advice. Corporate financiers McQueen, management advisers Sentio and legal advisors Walker Morris supported the vendors through the sale process. Deloitte also advised the Brook-Chrispin family on the transaction.

In the year to date, LDC has invested more than £200m of equity in eight businesses, including the £307m acquisition of The National Exhibition Centre Group (NEC Group), £207m management buyout of Halifax-based global insurance technology specialist SSP and the £83m MBO of Manchester-based Synexus. The private equity house has also generated exit proceeds of £300m in six divestments. Its portfolio of companies collectively generates £4bn of revenues and over £400m of profit, and employs in excess of 30,000 people.

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