Orchard House in Corby sold for £25m

The manufacturing firm is one of the UK's biggest fruit product suppliers and a major employer

Thursday, 14th January 2021, 12:15 pm
Pret's famous fruit salads are one of many products manufactured by Orchard House
Pret's famous fruit salads are one of many products manufactured by Orchard House

Orchard House Food Ltd has been sold as part of a £25m deal to a private equity fund.

The firm has its headquarters at Manton Road, Corby, and operates over five factories on the Earlstrees Industrial Estate. It employs about 500 people in Corby depending on demand, as well as 500 people in Gateshead.

Founded in 1985, the company was the first in the UK to commercialise freshly-squeezed orange juice.

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It now supplies big supermarkets with pre-prepared fruit products including Marks & Spencer, Pret a Manger, Saunsbury's and Tesco.

UK-based private equity fund Elaghmore has paid owners, Leeds-based Hain Celestial Group, about £25m for the firm. Hain Celestial bought Orchard House for an undisclosed sum four years ago.

Orchard House has a global supply chain sourcing and preparing a range of exotic fresh fruit from across the world.

Corby is fast becoming the UK's food manufacturing capital, with big names including Jacksons, Bakeaway and Blue Skies all recently opening factories. Other big-name food manufacturers with a presence in the town include crisp-maker Tayto, breakfast cereal manufacturer Weetabix, spice coatings provider Newly Weds and ingredient innovation firm Foodmaker. About 7,000 of the town's 42,000 workforce are involved in the manufacturing industry - double the national average.

Hain chose Elaghmore after a competitive bidding process. They said the decision was based on Elaghmore’s proven ability to quickly and efficiently complete deals despite the current challenging operating environment.

Elaghmore says its 'hands-on' approach means it will support the Orchard House management team as the business 'enters its next growth stage'.

Elaghmore founders Andy Ducker and David Manning have experience working with a global fruit business as investors and executives at Chaucer Foods. They developed and subsequently sold Chaucer Foods to Nagatanien Holdings Co. Limited in December 2016 in a deal worth $130 million.

The acquisition of Orchard House and its associated brands is Elaghmore’s tenth deal.

Elaghmore’s previous nine acquisitions have been combined to create three distinct businesses with a combined annual turnover of £170 million and employing more than 900 people across the UK & Europe.

Elaghmore's co-founder Andy Ducker said: "Orchard House is a market-leading business which supplies products that many UK customers buy daily.

"We are very proud that we will be part of Orchard House’s growth and development as we look beyond COVID-19. Orchard House is a flagship investment for Elaghmore, and our financial strength and operational expertise means we can help Orchard House prosper.

“Elaghmore’s deal pipeline is full of interesting opportunities. The pandemic has seen the need for many successful companies to seek new investment, especially as Government support schemes end, and bank support is limited. Elaghmore is well placed to help these companies, and we look forward to continuing to create significant value for our investors.”

Elaghmore was advised by global investment bank Houlihan Lokey, financial and tax advisers EY and lawyers Squire Patton Boggs.