Posted on 14 June 2016
WFF Crieff Limited, the operator of a large Wiltshire Farm Foods (“WFF”) business in East Central Scotland, has been sold to Apetito Limited, the parent of the WFF business in the UK. WFF is the UK’s leading frozen meals delivery service, operating a franchise model with over 70 franchisees in the UK.
The deal was initiated, and full deal management services were provided to the Sellers, by the Corporate Finance division accountancy and business advisory firm, Smith Cooper and legal advice was provided by the Birmingham and Edinburgh offices of Gateley plc.
The Seller, comprising various members of the Lamont family, were amongst the earliest UK franchisees, starting their WFF business in Crieff, north of Edinburgh, in 1992. Since then they successfully built the business to become a multi-million pound turnover operation delivering over 1 million meals a year in a territory north and south of Edinburgh. Former owner and Managing Director Douglas Lamont commented “Wiltshire Farm Foods is the clear market leader in its sector and we have thoroughly enjoyed being a part of its growth story and success over the last 23 years here in Crieff. As regards our advisers, the skill and professionalism shown by both the Smith Cooper and Gateley teams exceeded the family expectations resulting in a very swift completion to everyone's mutual satisfaction. They come with our highest recommendation”.
Smith Cooper operates from 6 offices and employs around 200 staff. The corporate Finance division ranks in the top 10 in the Midlands and has a number specialisms, including franchise where it dominates the UK fast food and drinks sector. The WFF Crieff deal was delivered by David Crump and Head of Corporate Finance, John Farnsworth, who commented: “We are delighted to have secured an exit for the Lamonts who have built one of the largest WFF businesses in the UK; it is very satisfying to have worked with the family to crystallise all the hard work and care they have poured into the business over the last 23 years”.
The Gateley plc team comprised Andrew Cowan, Chris Reed and Niall McCooey in Birmingham and Aileen McCullum in Edinburgh. Andrew commented “ It was a pleasure to work with the Lamonts and Smith Cooper on this interesting deal that required input from both our English and Scottish offices”.
Apetito Limited, which operates its franchise business through WFF in the UK, is a subsidiary of German-headquartered Apetito group which has operations in Germany, France, the Netherlands and Canada as well as in the UK. The group, which has a turnover of over €800m and employs over 8000, manufactures and supplies carefully nutritiously balanced meals to Care Homes, Local Authorities and Hospitals and, through WFF, to individual householders. Spokesman for apetito Limited, Kevin Rosevere said “we are delighted to have acquired WFF Crieff and wish the Lamont family a long and enjoyable retirement”.