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Unilever snacks on Graze in £150m deal

Sky News logo Sky News 05/02/2019 Mark Kleinman, City editor

a man wearing a blue shirt: Alan Jope first joined the company in 1985. Pic: Unilever © Other Alan Jope first joined the company in 1985. Pic: Unilever The new chief executive of Unilever, the FTSE-100 consumer goods giant, has clinched the first deal of his tenure by agreeing a cut-price takeover of Graze, the snacking brand sold in thousands of supermarkets.

Sky News has learnt that Alan Jope, who took over as Unilever's boss last month, sanctioned the purchase of the business from Carlyle's European technology fund for £150m.

Unilever confirmed the purchase of Graze late on Tuesday afternoon, less than a week after Sky News revealed that it was the frontrunner

Although the financial details of the deal were not disclosed, a source close to Unilever said it had paid exactly half the £300m price mooted at the time Graze was put up for sale.

Video: Unilever's CEO expects market conditions to remain challenging in 2019 (Bloomberg)

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Presenting his maiden set of results last week, Mr Jope said his priority was to accelerate Unilever's growth this year amid tensions with investors over the company's performance and record on corporate governance.

The acquisition of Graze will be one strand of a strategy to focus on brands with expansion potential, both geographically and through new distribution channels.

Graze was founded in 2008 as a snack-box delivery service, and has since expanded into retail outlets such as Boots, Costco and Sainsbury's, as well as online.

KIEV, UKRAINE - 2018/11/21: Unilever Company logo seen displayed on smart phone. (Photo by Igor Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images) © 2018 SOPA Images KIEV, UKRAINE - 2018/11/21: Unilever Company logo seen displayed on smart phone. (Photo by Igor Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images) The company was seen by food industry rivals as an innovator by offering greater personalisation based on order history, although it is seen as having lost its way, and failed to achieve the anticipated market share in the US.

Graze describes itself as the UK's largest healthy snacks brand, providing nuts, seeds and snack bars with no artificial ingredients.

Unilever saw off interest from competing bidders including Kellogg and Pepsico, the owner of Walker's Crisps, to clinch the deal.

The FTSE-100 group owns some of the world's leading food brands, such as Magnum ice cream and Marmite.

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