KENYA – Britania Foods Limited, which was once a behemoth in the Kenyan biscuit market has been put up for sale over mounting debt.
The company, which has been operating for more than 30 years was placed under administration last year after defaulting on loans of more than Ksh1.3 billion (US$11m) provided by suppliers and creditors.
The move was orchestrated by audit firm PKF Consulting Ltd who appointed Peter Kahi as administrator of the company, acting on behalf of DTB bank which is owed Ksh900 million (US$7.9m) by the manufacturer.
According to reports by Business Daily, the administrator of the insolvent biscuit manufacturer has put the assets of the firm on sale, marking the final chapter for the iconic company.
In a newspapers advertisement Peter Kahi has invited interested parties to make bids for the assets by January 28.
The assets in question include a modern high-tech plant in Nairobi, factory buildings, raw materials and leasehold plots comprising 3.28 acres.
Until recently, Britania products, including biscuits, snacks and other confectionaries, had been a constant feature on many supermarket shelves.
The market segment is now dominated by other players such as Manji Food Industries and Nuvita brand owner Mjengo Limited.
The winding up of the manufacturer has been largely attributed to the strain caused by the COVID-19 pandemic when Britania lost its main clientele which included schools and hotels which were both temporarily shut as part of measures to mitigate the spread of infections.
Also, the change in its fortunes coincided with the collapse of hitherto leading retail chains Nakumatt and Tuskys, which went down with more than Ksh50 million (US$440,000) of its money.
Cracks in the biscuit king were clear in August last year when the firm was placed under administration.
At the same time the firm was facing an insolvency case filed by one of its suppliers Uzuri Foods, which is claiming Sh17.3 million (US$152,500).
Uzuri wanted the High Court to appoint Kolluri Venkata Subbaraya as the liquidator and given authority to sell the manufacturer’s assets to recover the debt.
Britania, founded by Nitin Dawda’s family, started out as a small bakery and has been in operation for 34 years during which it grew into one of Kenya’s biggest local brands.
It was later sold to UK’s development finance institution CDC through its Nairobi-based private equity fund manager Catalyst Principal Partners in 2016.
The new owners brought in Jambo Africa, giving birth to a new company in Kenya known as Britania Foods Ltd.