Largo makes a bite for Golden Wonder

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The Independent Online

Irish crisp maker Largo Foods is one of three contenders vying to buy what's left of Golden Wonder out of administration.

Largo, Cologne-based Unisnack and a consortium including management are all understood to have submitted bids for the business, which carries a price tag of £15.5m. The brands up for grabs are Golden Wonder, Nik Naks, Wheat Crunchies and Ringo.

Kroll, the administrator appointed to Golden Wonder last Monday, is understood to be keen to close a deal by Friday.

Largo Food Exports, which has plants in Ireland and the Czech Republic, is the biggest Irish-owned crisp and snack manufacturer, employing more than 400 staff.

Largo's brands include Hunky Dorys, Perri and Sam Spudz. It also makes own-label crisps for the major supermarkets in Ireland, and more than 40 per cent of its business is for export. It reported pre-tax profits of €1m (£680,000) on turnover of €45.9m in 2004, and it took over the production of Tayto crisps in the Republic of Ireland from C&C last year.

Kroll announced the sale of the Pringles Mini brand and the Golden Wonder factory at Corby in England to another Irish company, Tayto Northern Ireland, late last week.

The Tayto business in the north, which is owned by the Henderson family, has no connection with the operation in the Republic.

Tayto's founder, Joe "Spud" Murphy, sold the rights to the business in the north and the brand name shortly after he established the business in the mid 1950s.

Golden Wonder, once the UK's favourite crisp brand, went into administration last week after years in which it has found it difficult to compete with the marketing muscle wielded by Walkers, which is owned by US giant PepsiCo.

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