Campbell to shed European chips arm in estimated $80m deal

By Kristine Sherred

- Last updated on GMT

Off the heels of other divestitures, Campbell said it will now focus on Snacks and Meals & Beverages specifically in North America. Photo courtesy of Campbell's.
Off the heels of other divestitures, Campbell said it will now focus on Snacks and Meals & Beverages specifically in North America. Photo courtesy of Campbell's.

Related tags Campbell Snacks Campbell Kettle brand Kettle chips Snyder's-Lance Snacks M&A snacking Nuts Earnings Call

Shortly after releasing its 2019 fiscal year earnings, the soup and snack company said it would sell UK-based Kettle Foods and Netherlands-based Yellow Chips to a private equity firm.

Valeo Foods, itself owned by CapVest Partners LLC, will onboard Kettle’s chip line after the deal ideally closes later this year – at the end of 2019 but in the first quarter of Campbell’s 2020 fiscal year. The estimated $80m (£66m) agreement is subject to regulatory approvals and consultation with employee unions.

Yellow Chips BV – which makes a variety of chips from potatoes, sweet potatoes, beets, parsnips and carrots – will also move to Valeo.

Under the terms of the deal, Campbell will retain the Kettle Brand business in the US and every region except for Europe and the Middle East. It hopes the move will curb debt and invigorate its newfound snacking focus in 'one core geography,' the company told BakeryandSnacks, referring to North America.

Kettle potato chips – in flavors like Sea Salt & Crushed Red Pepper, Mature Cheddar & Red Onion, and Sea Salt & Balsamic Vinegar – were already manufactured in the UK under the name Kettle Foods Limited. That Norwich-based producer also makes Go Pure vegetable crisps and Metcalfe’s Skinny Popcorn.

“The global snacking segment continues to grow and the proposed acquisition of Kettle Foods provides a great opportunity to further strengthen our expanding portfolio of international brands,”​ said Valeo CEO Seamus Kearney.

Kettle furthers the company’s mission of “building a dynamic international portfolio of attractive, resilient and popular food brands that consumers love to enjoy,”​ he added.

In addition to Valeo (formed in 2010 when Origin Foods and Batchelors merged), CapVest owns several food industry companies, including the Scandinavian snack and baked goods maker Scandza and Vaasan & Vaasan, a Nordic bakery manufacturer.

Campbell keeps Kettle in US

This year alone, Campbell has launched promotional campaigns – either for the first time ever or the first time in years – for brands including Cape Cod chips​, Goldfish​ and Lance crackers​. Kettle, meanwhile, has added a slew of new flavors and styles – running with trendy avocado oil, for instance.

Its snack portfolio also boasts Milano cookies, Pepperidge Farm and Snyder’s of Hanover.

In July, Campbell sold its Danish snacks affiliate Kelsen Group to the Belgian CTH Invest, a holding company connected to Ferrero, for $300m. It had only acquired Kelsen in 2013, and found another private equity buyer to scoop up Arnott’s for more than $2bn​ in July.

Net sales increased 2% to more than $2bn in the fourth quarter, according to Campbell’s fourth quarter earnings report. CEO Mark Clouse attributed the growth to “a year of steady, positive performance”​ achieved in part by “focusing the portfolio on two core businesses in North America,” ​referring to Snacks and Meals & Beverages.

Snacks neared $3.8bn in net sales for the year, up 3% to $967m in the quarter. The report called out ‘continued momentum’ for Pepperidge Farm, Snack Factory, Late July, Goldfish and Kettle.

On August 29, Campbell announced that former CFO of Chobani​, Mick Beekhuizen, would join the company as CFO.

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