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Norwich-based Kettle crisps' owner reportedly considering selling brand

PUBLISHED: 18:47 06 May 2019 | UPDATED: 08:46 07 May 2019

Kettle Foods factory.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Kettle Foods factory. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2017

Norfolk-based posh crisp maker Kettle - which employs nearly 500 people in the county - could be sold after its US food giant owner Campbell hired advisers to assess the future of the snack brand.

Kettle Foods at Bowthorpe. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYKettle Foods at Bowthorpe. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

It is understood Barclays has been hired by Campbell to explore a sale of the crisp business, as it looks to generate cash following recent profit warnings.

Kettle, which has two Norfolk sites - its main factory in Bowthorpe, Norwich, and a storage facility in Snetterton - was bought by soup-maker Campbell as part of its 2017 acquisition of American food group Snyder's-Lance.

Snyder's-Lance bought Kettle, which also includes the Metcalfe's Skinny popcorn brand, as part of Diamond Foods for $1.2bn in March 2016.

A city source told the Press Association that the UK arm of Kettle could be worth “between £50m and £100m”.

New flavours of Kettle Chips, made in Norwich, have just been unveiled. Pic: Archant.New flavours of Kettle Chips, made in Norwich, have just been unveiled. Pic: Archant.

It is understood Campbell is aiming to sell the global Kettle Foods business as whole.

The sale plans come after the UK arm dived into the red following “very intense” competition in the UK market and increased brand investment, it said in companies house accounts posted this week.

It fell to a £4.3m operating loss in the seven-month period to July 31 2018, slumping from a £51,000 profit for the 2017 full-year.

It reported revenues of £51.1 million for the seven-month period as its market share declined against the previous year.

Kettle Chips was launched in 1978 in Oregon by Cameron Healy, before starting UK production from a converted shoe factory in Norwich 10 years later.

The appointment of Barclays follows a raft of deals in the crisp segment last year, with 11 acquisitions involving bagged snack brands in the UK in 2018.

The flurry of activity included the sale of rival posh crisp-makers Tyrell's and Pipers, bought by Intersnack and PepsiCo respectively.

Campbell Soup announced plans to sell its Bolthouse Farms business to private equity for 510 million US dollars last month as it looks to generate cash.

In August it also announced plans to sell its international and fresh food business, following pressure from activist investor Dan Loeb to reevaluate its portfolio of brands.

Campbell and Barclays both declined to comment.

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