AB Foods buys 20 per cent stake in Jordans

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The Independent Online

Associated British Foods, which owns the Primark retail chain and food brands from Twinings to Kingsmill, has snapped up a 20 per cent stake in Jordans cereal company for an estimated £15m.

The family-owned company has its roots dating back to 1855, when the Jordans were farmers and then later millers in Biggleswade in Bedfordshire. Brothers Bill and David Jordan set up Jordans Cereals at Biggleswade in the 1970s after seeing the natural foods market take off in the US. The company makes more than 30 cereals and cereal bars and employs almost 400.

The deal fits in with AB Foods' strategy to invest in strong brands and focus more on the healthy eating market. The company would not disclose the price of the stake, but analysts believe it is worth £15m. Jordans had annual sales of £81m in the year to the end of February.

AB Foods' chief executive, George Weston, said Jordans "is a wonderful brand which is positioned well to benefit from the consumer's growing desire for natural ingredients and healthy eating".

The Jordan brothers will continue to be the majority shareholders in the business and will remain directly involved as chairman and vice-chairman.

"We have decided that now is the time to bring in a strong partner for the business that shares our commitment to the long-term future of Jordans and our commitment to producing high-quality natural foods and supporting environmental conservation," a spokesman said.

"Jordans already work with Twinings on joint promotional activity in France, and we see this as a tremendously exciting opportunity to benefit from other synergies and expertise that Associated British Foods may offer."

Earlier this week, AB Foods warned about the rising cost of food, as it said a doubling in wheat prices over the past year will force it to increase the price of a loaf.