18/08/2011

Healthy investment as Wholebake's MBO is natural next step

A £750,000 debt and equity investment from Finance Wales has helped finance a management buy-out (MBO) of successful Denbighshire-based food manufacturer, Wholebake Ltd.  The move will enable Wholebake’s new management team to build on the company’s profitable growth.


Managing Director, Mark Gould and Operations Director, Richard Shaw used the investment to buy-out founder, Steve Jones’ majority shareholding when he decided to retire after 25 years with the business.  Gould and Shaw have each been involved in Wholebake for over 5 years and will now oversee the business as it continues to expand into new markets.

Established in 1984, Wholebake manufactures and distributes a range of own-brand seed and fruit bars to supermarkets, health food chains and other retail outlets.  Its product range includes the popular 9Bar which has been on the market for 10 years and is one of the leading ‘Free From’ healthy snacks in the UK.  The remainder of Wholebake’s revenue comes from contract manufacturing where it has an excellent and growing reputation.

“We’re at an exciting stage in Wholebake’s development. Consumers’ dietary habits are constantly changing and Wholebake has grown over the years by responding to changing consumer tastes. Our products have successfully made the transition from niche to nationally-recognised brands,” said Mark Gould, Wholebake’s Managing Director.

Finance Wales structured a package of debt and equity investment to provide the company with long-term finance to fund the MBO.

“Richard and I have been with Wholebake for over 5 years and in that time the company has gone from strength to strength.  Our markets are growing and we have exciting plans to capitalise on them profitably.  This investment has not only helped us do the MBO, but has also provided us with the financial backing to grow the company by continuing to improve our efficiency and introducing some new products,” continued Gould.

Finance Wales Investment Executive Heather Abrahams who lead the deal said:
“Wholebake is a profitable company and its management team has the skill, experience and commitment to grow the business.  We’re delighted to be part of this next chapter and I’m confident this is the start of a strong period of growth for the company.

“We’re seeing more and more succession deals from management teams like Wholebake’s who realise that retirement needn’t signal the end of their business and all their hard work.  An MBO needs the backing of a flexible investor with long-term vision for what the company could achieve.”

The cereal bar market grew by 29% between 2005 and 2009 and its current value is estimated at £324 million, with further growth forecast over the next 5 years.