The deal - believed to be worth around $100m (£70m) - comes four months after Belgium-based Lotus entered into a strategic partnership with another UK company, Natural Balance Foods, which sells snacks and bars under the Nākd and Trek brands. Lotus said the deals would enable it to offer healthy snacking options to adults and children in Europe and beyond.
“There is a growing global demand for healthy alternatives hence we invested in Natural Balance Foods in the summer and now are delighted to add the brands of Urban Fresh Foods,” said Lotus CEO Jan Boone. “With this acquisition we will lead the way and become the true ‘category captain’ of the healthy snacking category in the UK and abroad.”
Net revenue of $40m
Founded eight years ago (see box-out below), Urban Fresh Foods sells snacks and cereal under the Bear and Urban Fruit brands, and is expected to have net revenue of $40m (£27m) in 2016, with profitability of 18% Earnings before Taxes.
Lotus - which operates under brands including Lotus Biscoff, Dinosaur Lotus, Lotus Suzy, Peijnenburg, Snelle Jelle and Annas - said the new deal will make the UK Lotus’s biggest market in terms of branded turnover, followed by Belgium, the Netherlands and France.
Boone added that Lotus would “respect and maintain the identity and characteristics” of Urban Fresh Foods’ Bear and Urban Fruit brands. The business will continue to be run from London by founders Hayley and Andrew Gait-Golding and partner Giles Brook, who is also CEO of All Market Europe, European distributor of Vita Coco coconut water.
Nutritionally dense products
“We are delighted to be partnering with Lotus who, like ourselves, have a hunger to create positive change in the world, helping consumers get access to healthier, nutritionally dense food products,” said a spokesman for Urban Fresh Foods. “Lotus will help us maintain our growth story in the UK and will be an invaluable partner when it comes to the internationalisation of our two brands.”
Headquartered in Belgium and listed on Euronext Brussels, Lotus has production facilities in Belgium, the Netherlands, France and Sweden. It operates 15 of its own sales organizations in Europe, the US and Asia and works with commercial partners in 40 countries worldwide. The business has 1,321 employees and in 2014 achieved a turnover of $375m (€347.9m).
Urban Fresh Foods
Urban Fresh Foods was founded in 2007 by husband and wife team Hayley and Andrew Gait-Golding, who were joined by former Innocent Drinks director Giles Brook when he invested in the business in 2009.
Claiming an average annual growth of more than 50%, the business employs 40 staff from its HQ in London, and produces snacks and cereals under the Bear and Urban fruit brands.
Its Bear product range includes Yoyos and Paws made from baked pure fruit, with no added sugar, concentrates, preservatives or stabilisers. Two years ago, Bear was expanded with Alphabites, a children’s breakfast cereal with no refined sugar or salt, and this October with the Claws fruit snack range that incorporates one third vegetables to reduce sugar content.
Urban Fruit is a fruit snacks range with no added sugars, sulphites or oils that is aimed at 25 to 45-year-olds. Sales of the brand have benefitted from the recent ban of confectionery at check-outs in many UK supermarkets.