UK – Ferrero Group, an Italian manufacturer of branded chocolate and confectionery products, is looking to grow its biscuit portfolio with the acquisition of Burton’s Biscuit Company.

Burton’s Biscuit Company is a UK leading biscuit manufacturer which supplies both quality branded and retailer brand biscuits.

It owns and bakes important brands such as Maryland, Jammie Dodgers and Wagon Wheels and also bakes biscuits for major retailers and global brands.

The British company is believed to have been sold for about £360m by the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board, an investment fund with extensive private equity interests, which has owned Burton’s since 2013.

CTH, a Belgian Holding Company related to the Ferrero Group, is the company that is overseeing the transaction which is subject to regulatory approvals.

The transaction will see the company take over six production facilities in the UK, based in Blackpool, Dorset, Edinburgh, Livingston, Llantarnam and Isle of Arran.

Ayisha Koyenikan, food and drink analyst at the research group Mintel, said Ferrero could use Burton’s as a launchpad for its Nutella brand biscuits in the UK.

“Ferrero has recently doubled production to increase sales abroad, and so it remains to be seen if a UK launch would be facilitated with imported products or if one of the newly acquired UK factories would be adapted for domestic production,” she said.

However, the merger will raise fears of consolidation with Fox’s facilities in Batley in Yorkshire, and Kirkham in Lancashire.

Foreign acquisitions: A thorny issue

Foreign takeovers of UK snack companies have been a thorny issue since the acquisition of the UK chocolate maker Cadbury by the US cheese slice group Kraft in 2010.

The American company promised there would be no compulsory redundancies in manufacturing for two years – but a year later said 200 jobs would have to go.

Kraft subsequently spun off its snacks business – which included Cadbury – into a new business called Mondelez International.

A spokesperson for Ferrero has however allayed any fears of job losses arising from the takeover.

“There are no plans to change staffing levels at this point,” the spokesperson noted adding that the priority was on investing in the acquired business.

The acquisition follows CTH’s buyout of Staffordshire-based Fox’s Biscuits for £246m in October last year and Ferrero’s £112m takeover of the British chocolatier Thornton’s in 2015.

CTH also bought the Belgian luxury biscuit maker Delacre, in 2016, and Denmark’s Kelsen Group, while Ferrero bought a clutch of biscuit and snack brands from the US group Kellogg in 2019.

Liked this article? Subscribe to Food Business Africa News, our regular email newsletters with the latest news insights from Africa and the World’s food and agro industry. SUBSCRIBE HERE