Aunt Bessie’s owner to be sold to Nomad Foods in £210m sale

Nomad Foods (NYSE: NOMD) is buying the Aunt Bessie’s Yorkshire-based group William Jackson in a deal worth £210 million.

The group behind Birds Eye and Goodfella’s Pizza will buy the 167-year-old family company that owns Aunt Bessie’s frozen Yorkshire puddings and roast potatoes with all William Jackson staff expected to join Nomad Foods.

“It’s quite a shock to people that the business is being sold,” said Wayne Hudson, the Birds Eye managing director.

“Aunt Bessie’s is an incredibly well-known brand. This is a growth story – we have no intentions to close the plant and are integrating it into the Nomad Birds Eye business,” he added.

The 400 Yorkshire based staff at William Jackson will transfer in Autumn when the deal is completed. The finished deal will boost the number of Nomad Food employees to 1,600.

“The acquisition of Aunt Bessie’s illustrates the power of our value creation model which is fuelled by organic revenue growth, strong free cash flow and disciplined M&A,” said Noam Gottesman, the co-chairman of Nomad Foods.

“Similar to Goodfella’s Pizza, which we acquired earlier this year, Aunt Bessie’s is expected to be immediately accretive to earnings while providing complementary category exposure, synergy opportunities and new avenues for growth.”

“We look forward to welcoming the Aunt Bessie’s team to our organisation and working together to build on their success.”

Nomad Foods is strengthening its hold on the UK market, having recently bought the UK’s biggest frozen pizza brand, Goodfella’s. The deal with food tycoon Ranjit Boparan was worth £200 million.

“The focus on a limited number of categories is something we’re going to keep,” said the Nomad Chief Executive Officer Stefan Descheemaeker following the deal with Goodfella’s. “We have learned the lessons from the past and are moving from defense to offense.”

In the year to April, Nomad Foods generated revenues of £108 million and underlying profits of £20 million.

“Aunt Bessie’s has come a long way with us. We’ve invested heavily in developing the business and the brand, and Nomad Foods is well placed to take the business even further,” said Nicholas Oughtred, the chairman of William Jackon.