Kettle Foods boss promises no jobs will be lost after sale of firm

PUBLISHED: 11:27 03 September 2019 | UPDATED: 11:27 03 September 2019

Ashley Hicks, managing director of Kettle Foods in Norwich
Pic: Archant

Ashley Hicks, managing director of Kettle Foods in Norwich Pic: Archant

The boss of Kettle Foods believes the sale of the Norwich firm to the makers of Fox’s Glacier Mints is an “exciting step” and has promised staff there will be no job losses.

The Kettle Foods factory at Bowthorpe. Pic: ArchantThe Kettle Foods factory at Bowthorpe. Pic: Archant

Managing director of the Bowthorpe-based firm Ashley Hicks said: "Moving into the Valeo Foods portfolio is an exciting step for Kettle Foods.

"We have clear plans in place for the business and are pleased to have the full support from Valeo Foods to continue our investment in our brands and production sites."

The firm also confirmed there would be "no changes to jobs as a result of this news".

MORE: Kettle Chips sold to European food giant

Kettle Chips being produced in Norwich. Pic; ArchantKettle Chips being produced in Norwich. Pic; Archant

Current owner Campbell Soup Company announced it had signed an agreement for the intended sale of Kettle Foods and another European crisp firm to Valeo Foods for approximately £66 million.

A possible sale of the firm making hand-cooked crisps and also Metcalfe's skinny popcorn from its Barnard Road headquarters was mooted back in May when it was understood Campbell had appointed Barclays as advisors to assess the future of the snack brand. This came after the UK arm of the Campbell business went into the red following intense competition.

Figures back then showed a £4.3m operating loss in the seven-month period to the end of July 2018.

Kettle Foods was launched in 1978 in Oregon by Cameron Healy, before starting UK production from a converted shoe factory in Norwich 10 years later. The crisps became a big hit because of their thicker, crunchier taste and became the number one premium crisp brand in the UK, with a 40% market share.

Consumers loved the fact they were made from natural ingredients, with no artificial ingredients or flavour enhancers, cooked in small batches with 100% British potatoes, mostly sourced within 30 miles of the factory. Over the years various additions were made to the basic range including vegetable crisps and a lower calorie alternative. Famously at Christmas the firm created five seasoning shakers looking like their crisp packets including some of the favourites like crispy bacon and maple syrup.

Kettle, which also has a storage facility in Snetterton, was bought by soup-maker Campbell as part of an 2017 acquisition of American food group Snyder's-Lance. Valeo Foods, with bases in Dublin, Oxfordshire and a European arm, owns nearly 70 brands including Rowse Honey, Fox's Glacier Mints and XXX Mints, Jacob's and Batchelors.

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