Tyrrells sell spells international expansion

By Annie-Rose Harrison-Dunn

- Last updated on GMT

Tyrrells has seen big changes since its beginning in 2002, can it hold onto its original ethics despite this?
Tyrrells has seen big changes since its beginning in 2002, can it hold onto its original ethics despite this?

Related tags Potato

Tyrrells Potato Crisps, the chip company which has built its name on home-made, British branding, has been sold to Bahrain-registered Investcorp.

With international ambitions brewing for the brand, an analyst suggests it must find a balance between the original business premise and changes needed to take the brand forward globally.

Investcorp acquired the company from Langholm Capital for £100m ($150m).

Translatability and branding

According to Leatherhead analyst Emma Gubisch, the ability to maintain 'home-made' branding under the new ownership structure depends on the company itself.

“Being owned by a private investor won’t necessarily affect the brand, providing you keep hold of certain core ethics,”​ said Gubisch.

“From a consumer point of view people tend not to be aware of ownership and pay more attention to marketing and where a product is available,”​ she added. 

“Tyrrells is a very strong brand, it’s interesting that it’s moving into different markets with its popcorn and vegetable crisps and it’s doing well in Europe. With the agenda around clean labeling, there is an opportunity for strong growth in Europe."

International ambitions

Carsten Hagenbucher, principal in Investcorp’s European corporate investments team, explained their international ambitions for the brand when he said it had, “an excellent position in the UK and a rapidly growing international footprint. We are excited about partnering with Tyrrells’ entrepreneurial management team to accelerate the international expansion and to build a world-class business.”

A source close to Investcorp told BakeryandSnacks.com that they were looking primarily at expanding into European and US markets.

Germany, France, Holland, the US, Switzerland and Canada currently account for 20% of group turnover.

Passed from hand to hand

Investcorp is a Bahrain-registered company, but has been building up a strong European portfolio over the last 30 years. In the past 18 months the European team has invested in six portfolio companies including the Scandinavian luxury brand Georg Jensen and oil services provider Hydrasun.

Discussing the Tyrrells acquisition, Investcorp were keen to emphasize this European standing in an effort to dispel the image of an unknown foreigner investor taking over a much-loved British brand, according to a source close to the firm.

An executive at Investcorp told Reuters that it had bought a 38% stake in a Saudi oil and gas services company and was waiting to complete around three more deals in 2013 through its $1 billion Gulf fund.

Tyrrells was founded by potato farmer William Chase in 2002, and was sold for a reported £30m to private equity firm Langholm Capital in 2008.

Langholm promptly bought the brand to the shelves of Tesco supermarkets, a move which had previously been vetoed by Chase who preferred to sell to farm shops and delicatessens.

After the sell to Langholm these smaller retailers were dropped and Chase’s potatoes outsourced for cheaper alternatives. 

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