Wednesday 2 December 2015

Irish horse racing tycoons prepare to fire starting gun on sale of Marks & Spencer's juice maker

Do you remember Wellness Foods?

Well in case you don't, here is a little reminder. During the credit boom of the mid-noughties a group of Irish "tycoons" - said to include Denis Brosnan, formerly the boss of food company Kerry Group - backed Wellness via Switzerland-based Lydian Capital to consolidate Britain's health food market. So, Wellness set about gobbling up upmarket and sloaney food brands such as Dorset Cereals and Rowse Honey.

However, since the financial crisis Wellness Foods' has been through a bit of a tough time. So, Dorset was offloaded last year to Associated British Foods for about £50 million whilst Rowse Honey was sold to Valeo Foods.

Earlier this year, the Irish Independent reported that John Magnier and JP McManus - who built a substantial stake Manchester United Football Club before selling out to the Glazer family - took control of Wellness via a Jersey-backed vehicle called Erbium Holdings. Here is the link:

And now it would appear the owners of the Coolmore Stud farm are about to pull the trigger on the sale of Wellness's remaining brands.

I have been told by sources that bankers at NM Rothschild have been asked to carry out "strategic reviews" Orchard House, which makes own-label juices and smoothies for Marks & Spencer, and snacks brand Fruit Bowl. The former is likely to fetch between £70 million and £80 million whilst the latter could be sold for around £35 million.

When I asked Wellness Foods for a comment a person at the office said nobody was available to comment.

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