Whitworths snacks owner mulls sale

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The Independent Online

A 127-year-old British maker of snacks and baking products has hired advisers to explore strategic options that could see it sold for more than £100m.

European Capital acquired Whitworths, which manufactures the Sunny Raisin and Frootz brands, from Gresham Private Equity for £86m in 2006. Gresham had acquired the business for £15m in 2001 after it fell on hard times.

European Capital has appointed Stamford Partners to examine options including a refinancing, and selling a minority stake or the entire business.

The supplier of dried fruit and nuts has grown wholesale revenues strongly at supermarkets such as Tesco and Waitrose, driven by the trend towards healthy eating and snacking. Underlying operating profit rose by 8 per cent to £6.8m over the year to 30 April 2012, on revenue up sharply to £144.9m.

John Whitworth founded the company in Northamptonshire in 1886, and its headquarters remain in Wellingborough.

All parties either declined to comment or did not return calls.