Pork Processor Karro Food Group Purchases Young’s Seafood

Karro Food Group, a major UK pork producer owned by CapVest Partners LLC for the past two years, has acquired Grimsby, England-based Young’s Seafood. The company has been on the block since April of 2018.

Youngs factory workers

Ranked as Britain’s leading seafood specialty brand and primarily selling value-added frozen products ranging from cod fillet wraps and fish fingers to sophisticated ready meals, Young’s has been in business since 1805. The company takes credit for a number of notable seafood industry firsts, including the marketing of potted shrimp in distinctive blue pottery jars and introduction of frozen prawns to consumers in the 1940s. It posted sales of almost £546 million last year, up 4.3% over receipts generated in 2017.

Headquartered in Malton, North Yorkshire, and employing approximately 3,000 people at multiple plants, Karro process circa 45,000 pigs each week. Its pork products – which run the gamut from frozen sausage and bacon to fresh pork, gammon, ham and cooked meats – are distributed to the UK’s major retail stores and wholesale food markets and eaten by millions of consumers every year.

larger version of Karro logo

“We are very excited about the opportunity to create an ambitious multi-protein food business of considerable scale,” said Karro Group Executive Chair Di Walker, who will now serve as chief executive officer of a new group consisting of both companies. “Young’s and Karro are highly complementary businesses and the combined platform will have strong market positions in two important protein categories that are experiencing consistent long-term growth. Today’s (July 2) agreement will provide both businesses with the opportunity to further develop and broaden our relationships with our key partners.”

Young’s CEO Bill Showalter was also pleased with the deal, financial terms of which were not disclosed.

“We are delighted to be moving forward with Karro and CapVest and we believe this move will be positive for the fish and seafood industry as a whole,” said Showalter. “With CapVest’s existing understanding of our industry, and as part of a multi-protein food group, we will have the opportunity to inspire more consumers to love fish through our fresh, frozen, own-label and branded products. The transaction will build an even stronger foundation from which we can drive growth, providing exceptional quality fish and stand out innovation to countries around the world.”

The new group will have annual sales of approximately £1.2 billion and employ in excess of 5,000 people in Britain and Ireland.

London-headquartered CapVest, which previously owned Young’s Seafood, sold the business for over £1.1 billion more than a decade ago in a bundled deal that included Findus brands.  A trio of private equity company buyers – Bain Capital Credit, Lion Capital and HPS Investment Partners – sold off the Findus unit to Nomad Foods in 2015 for £500 million, but retained ownership of Young’s.

Jason Rodrigues, a partner at CapVest, stated that it “believes strongly that the combination of Young’s and Karro will create a differentiated and attractive multi-protein platform.”

He added: “We look forward to working closely with management to accelerate investment and strengthen the competitive position of each business, whilst also pursuing other acquisition-led growth opportunities.”