Historic food firm Whitworths is put up for sale

Wed, 12 Apr 2017

Whitworths, the 130-year-old maker of dried fruits and nuts, has been put up for sale by its private equity owner Equistone, reports say.

According to the Daily Mail Whitworths, which was founded as a flour-miller in Northamptonshire in 1886, has appointed investment bank Houlihan Lokey to hunt down a buyer.

City sources told the paper that trading had been hard in the past year, and that lenders are thought to have put pressure on Equistone to sell so they can recover some of their loans.

It is thought the company could be worth around £20 million, although a source told Insider Media that that figure is “exaggeratedly low and very questionable”.

Whitworths, headquartered in Northamptonshire, is the UK’s largest supplier of branded and own label dried fruit, nut and seed products, with approximately 30 per cent market share.

As well as a variety of dried fruit and nut products, the firm also sells beans, pulses and cereals as well as owning the Sunny Raisins brand. Its customers include supermarket chains and bakers.

In the 12 months to June 2016 the company posted sales of £157 million and £7.4 million in operating profit.

A Whitworths spokesman told the Daily Mail: “We are currently in a process with Houlihan Lokey exploring new investment opportunities.”

Equistone Partners bought a majority stake in Whitworths in September 2013 in a deal which valued the business at £90 million.

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