Abel & Cole begin sale process

Mon, 20 Feb 2012

Online organic food seller Abel & Cole is gearing up to attempt to sell its business for the second time, after its previous attempt failed last year.

An information memorandum is due to be sent out to interested parties in March. Advisers from PwC are on board to manage the sale process. Abel & Cole is estimated to be worth over £30 million in a sale.

Former barrister, Keith Abel set up the business in 1988, and started out in the basement of a house in South East London.

Today, it delivers its vegetable and fruit boxes to over 50,000 homes a week. Other products sold include meat, fish, eggs, and kitchen cupboard items such as condiments, pasta and snacks.

It is thought large supermarkets such as Morrisons and the Co-operative Group – which do not have online sales - may be interested to see the information memorandum for Abel & Cole. Online grocer Ocado is expected to pay close attention to the proceedings.

Phoenix Equity Partners bought the delivery business in October 2007 for £40 million from Mr Abel. The business then started to flag and in early 2010 was put into a debt-for-equity swap with its lender Lloyds Banking Group.

Mr Abel came back and turned the firm back around to profits two years ago. Revenues for Abel & Cole for the year ending 31 August 2011 rose by 25 per cent to £35.74 million.

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