Entrepreneur prepares to sell stake in fish business – Fishupdate.com

Entrepreneur prepares to sell stake in fish business Published:  21 September, 2010

A CHANCE to buy in big time into one of Britain’s fastest growing seafood companies could be coming up soon.

It is reported by the Sunday Times that top entrepreneur and  former Channel 4 chairman Luke Johnson is preparing to sell his stake in Seafood Holdings which supplies fish to some of Britain’s top chefs including Gordon Ramsay and Heston Blumenthal.

He bought into Seafood Holdings, which also trades as Direct Seafoods, in 2006 through his private equity firm Risk Capital Partners which has a 24 per cent share in the fish business.

When he took a stake in Seafood Holdings it was worth around £12-million. Today it is valued at over £70-million and rising. Luke Johnson, the son of historian Paul Johnson, told Fishupdate at the time: “People are willing to experiment with fish and it is growing market.”

The company was founded in 1991 by Toby Baxendale, who is owner and chief executive with a majority shareholding. A few months ago it was listed as 35th among Britain’s top 100 fastest growing private companies and Mr Baxandale has publicly declared that his is on a path of growth.

In July this year it won a  £5-million contract from a rival company to supply the Hilton Hotels Group with fish. Seafood Holdings has operations in Devon, Edinburgh, Colchester, London and Tyneside. Seafood Holdings has grown by buying up smaller rivals as they become available. It is also a business at the quality end of the seafood market.

If Luke Johnson does decide to sell, the most likely bidders are likely to be private equity companies who have been busy in the fish and seafood business over the last few months. Fish has suddenly become very fashionable in the City.