Axel Johnson’s investment company acquires leading UK specialist of clean label ingredients

By Gill Hyslop contact

- Last updated on GMT

Ulrick & Short has been acquired by Novax. Pic: Ulrick & Short
Ulrick & Short has been acquired by Novax. Pic: Ulrick & Short

Related tags: Ulrick & short, Novax, Axel Johnson, Clean label, Ingredients, plant-based, non-GMO

Novax – part of the Swedish family giant that acquires and develops companies in strategic niche markets – has acquired a majority stake in British ingredients specialist Ulrick & Short.

Novax is the investment company of the Stockholm-based, €8bn Axel Johnson Group. The transaction marks Novax’s continued commitment to engage in a more sustainable Future of Food by investing in the European specialty food ingredients market.

Ulrick & Short specialises in plant-based natural ingredients and is well positioned to meet the long-term demands by consumers who are moving towards healthier and more sustainable alternatives.

The company provides global food producers in the bakery, meat and dairy sectors with gluten-free, non-GMO, plant-based and organic ingredients. The AA BRC accredited company has teams of dedicated food researchers based in the UK and the Netherlands.

Following the acquisition, Ulrick & Short will continue to operate as an independent business, with the existing management team remaining in place, led by cofounder and owner Adrian Short. Andrew Ulrick will also remain as a minority shareholder.

“Even at the first meeting with the Novax team, it was clear that we had found an organisation and a team that shares our values ​​and beliefs in how a company should be run and developed,”​ said Short.

“With Novax as a partner, we will continue to grow and have the best of conditions to reach our full potential. We look forward to the next, exciting stage of the journey.”

The food of the future

For Novax, the transaction is a significant step into the food value chain and ‘Framtidens Mat’ (the food of the future).

“As a long-term investor and partner, it is gratifying to offer a large and business-oriented commitment to continue building and developing Ulrick & Short together with the team in the coming years,”​ said Pär Warnström , senior investment manager and sector manager for Future Food at Novax.

“The company illustrates much of what we believe characterises an exceptional business in a promising market – a strong and experienced management team, a competitive leading niche position with a demonstrated strength in its business model, with decades of experience and expertise.

“At Novax, we are determined to be part of driving the food industry forward with innovation, health and sustainability in focus, and we look forward to continuing to do so and grow Ulrick & Short.”

The ingredients space

Advisors to Ulrick & Short were Messis Finance, Rollits LLP and Smailes Goldie Group, while Walker Morris LLP, Ernst & Young and Oghma Partners LLP advised Novax.

The deal is the latest in Oghma’s expanding list of successful cross-border transactions in the ingredients sector, including advising Solina Group on the acquisition of UK-based Bowman Ingredients and Givaudan S.A. on the divestment of both its pectin business and of its processed and grated cheese business.

Mark Lynch, partner at Oghma Partners, said, “We were delighted to have the opportunity to work with Novax on this ingredients acquisition, which further strengthens our industry leading track record in this important and exciting sub-sector of the food space. This transaction marks the completion of our sixth deal in the last twelve months.”

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