New owner promises to develop Whitworths of Irthlingborough

Staff at Whitworths receiving long-service awards in 2011
Staff at Whitworths receiving long-service awards in 2011

Irthlingborough firm Whitworths has been valued at £90m after a new investor became a majority stakeholder and promised to develop the business.

The Birmingham Office of Equistone Partners Europe Ltd has taken a majority stake in Whitworths, which is the UK’s largest supplier of dried fruit, nut and seed products.

Equistone said it will invest in the company to help it develop its product range further.

Whitworths chief executive Peter Utting said the investment will be good news for the company and the area.

He said: “The investment by Equistone Partners Europe in Whitworths is great news for the company going forward.

“It means we have the resources to realise our ambitious plans for the business, to develop new product lines and to really capitalise on the strength we have in the dried fruit, nut and seed sector.

“It will allow us to continue to invest in our capability here in Northamptonshire which is positive for both our existing employees and the local area.”

He added: “Together with the management team at Whitworths, I have enjoyed building the company over the recent years to its current scale and reputation.

“We are excited to work with the team at Equistone to explore new opportunities and we are committed to continuing to deliver our exceptional product range and service to our current and prospective customers.”

Whitworths, in Wellingborough Road, Irthlingborough, was founded in 1886.

It has about 30 per cent market share in its category, while achieving seven per cent growth per annum. In the year to April 2013, the company generated total sales of £157.3m.

Phil Griesbach, a partner of Equistone Partners Europe, led the deal.

He said: “The management team has delivered on its strategy to date and we look forward to working with them to help the business continue to develop, expanding distribution and product offering.”