Young's owners preparing for sale – report

THE private equity owners of Young’s Seafood may be poised to put the business up for sale, according to a report today by the Press Association news agency.
Grimsby based Young’s and the three private equity owners, Lion Capital, Bain Capital and HPS Investment Partners, have so far refused to comment on the report, which says they are working with the investment house Stamford Partners to explore the possibility of a sale.
Young’s is Britain’s largest seafood company, employing more than 2,000 people in Grimsby (where it is the town’s largest private employer) and Scotland, where it has an extensive salmon curing operation.
It has a history dating back to 1805 when Elizabeth Young, a London fish seller, and her family started a whitebait business. It later became famous for its potted shrimp.  In the 1960s it was acquired by the Grimsby fishing and frozen food tycoon Carl Ross.
The Young’s brand, which includes the highly successful Chip Shop and Gastro ranges, is easily the most recognisable label in Britain’s supermarket freezer cabinets.
It had a number of owners over the years until it merged with Bluecrest Foods some 17 years ago, also under a private equity umbrella. It was acquired by Lion Capital in 2008 for £1.1 billion but later sold the Findus part of the business to Nomad Foods, which also owns Birds Eye, for £500 million.
Last year, Young’s enjoyed sales of just over £496 million and earlier this year it expanded into the US retail market.
If the private equity owners proceed with a sale – it was always going to be on the cards – then it would be the second major Grimsby seafood business to change hands recently.
Last month, the Icelandic Group sold Seachill to Hilton Foods for £80 million. There will be no shortage of potential suitors for Young’s.