Young’s Seafood sold in major deal

Young's Seafood CEO Bill Showalter

YOUNG’S Seafood has changed hands in a multi-million pound deal, it was announced today.

Britain’s largest seafood business has been bought by CapVest, its former private equity owner, and will now become part of a multi-protein food group involving Karro, a leading UK pork processor.

CapVest Partners said the new group has significant potential for further growth and will have a strong market presence in the pork and chilled and frozen seafood markets, with sales of £1.2 billion and a workforce of more than 5,000 people across the UK and Ireland.

The sale figure has not been revealed, but some reports put it at around £175 million.

A statement said: ‘Karro and Grimsby based Young’s will operate as two separate businesses within the enlarged group and will continue to focus on providing great food to customers across pork and seafood.’

Di Walker, current executive chair of Karro, has been appointed CEO of the new group.

She said: ‘We are very excited about the opportunity to create an ambitious, multi-protein food business of considerable scale.

‘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 agreement will provide both businesses with the opportunity to further develop and broaden our relationships with our key partners.’

Bill Showalter, CEO of Young’s, said: ‘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.

‘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.’

Jason Rodrigues, a partner at CapVest, said: ‘CapVest believe strongly that the combination of Young’s and Karro will create a differentiated and attractive multi-protein platform.

‘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.’

The deal is similar in some ways to the purchase of Grimsby based Icelandic Seachill by another meat company, the Hilton Food Group, for £80 million, more than 18 months ago.

Young’s, which was put up for sale in April 2018, is currently owned by three private equity companies, HPS Investments, Bain Capital and Lion.

CapVest, headed by Seamus Fitzpatrick, bought what was then Young’s Bluecrest for £137 million in 2002 before being sold on to Lion Capital six years later.