John Ross Jr (Aberdeen) Limited and Coln Valley Smokery Limited / PRFoods
Cavendish Corporate Finance, the specialist sell-side M&A firm, has advised on the sale of John Ross Jr. (Aberdeen) Limited (“John Ross”) and Coln Valley Smokery Limited (“Coln Valley”), together “the JRJ Group”, an award-winning, luxury branded smoked salmon producer, to AS PRFoods (“PRFoods”), a leading food production company based in Finland and Estonia.
Founded by Andrew Leigh in 1987, John Ross is a leading brand of luxury traditional smoked salmon and fine food products, as recognised by its Royal Warrant accreditation which is has held for over 20 years. John Ross’s products are sold worldwide and its customer base includes leading retailers such as Waitrose, Tesco and Sainsbury’s, leading restaurants and international customers.
Coln Valley, an award-winning smoked salmon business based in the English Cotswolds, was acquired by the Group in 2009. The acquisition enhanced the Group’s product offering available to its customers and provided additional channels to market including prestigious sporting events such as Cheltenham, the Henley Royal Regatta and Wimbledon.
PRFoods is an Estonian based group of companies engaged in food processing and sales. The group has been listed on the NASDAQ OMX Tallinn Stock Exchange since 5 May 2010 and as well as being the largest manufacturer of fish in Estonia is also one of the largest fish production brands in Finland.
Cavendish advised the shareholders and management of the JRJ Group, working with the Leigh family over a number of years to prepare the business and then running a competitive sale process. Through its membership of the global advisory firm Oaklins, Cavendish was able to bring a range of buyers from around the world, including PRFoods, into the sale.
The transaction gives a majority exit for the Leigh family, with next generation family-members Vicky Leigh-Pearson and Chris Leigh continuing in senior roles and as shareholders in the Group. The sale to PRFoods provides the Group with an ideal route to leverage the strength of the John Ross and Coln Valley brands, to expand its product range and accelerate sales growth around the world.
Andrew Leigh, Founder and Shareholder of John Ross commented:
“We have greatly enjoyed working with Cavendish over the past few years. As a family owned business, we definitely needed good advice and we felt very well supported by the team at Cavendish. I never imagined we would end up with an Estonian buyer but it is clear that there is an excellent fit with PRFoods, which will be good for the business, our customers and suppliers and for Chris and Vicky who remain as shareholders.”
Jonathan Buxton, Partner at Cavendish Corporate Finance commented:
“We are delighted to have advised the Leigh family on this transaction, allowing the shareholders to realise the significant value that has been created, whilst also enabling family succession and creating a platform for future growth.
The sale of the John Ross Group adds to the Cavendish’s extensive track-record in selling both luxury and branded food businesses, including recent transactions such as the sale of Naked Wines to Majestic and Radley Handbags to Bregal Freshstream.”
Fiona Mc Cormick, Director at Cavendish, concluded:
“Despite last year’s Brexit vote, quality British assets continue to attract significant interest from overseas buyers. The acquisition by PRFoods further demonstrates Cavendish’s expertise in selling premium branded consumer products to international buyers and is an excellent example of the strength of Oaklins, the world’s most experienced mid-market M&A advisor. Leveraging Oaklins’ relationships and deep local connections, we are able to access buyers such as PRFoods around the world. ”
“This transaction is huge for our business as we look to continue our growth journey. We’re very excited to have raised enough capital from a leading impact investor to expand our market-leading position and maintain standards of excellence across all our products. We’re hugely grateful to the team at finnCap, who played a fundamental role, in what we hope, will be a very exciting growth story.”
“I would like to thank all of those involved in the process that has concluded with us ultimately choosing Neighborly as our partner going forward, those at finnCap Cavendish and our CFO Mike Bergin, without whom this would have not happened.”
Thank you to the Cavendish team for your unwavering support throughout this process. Finding a strategic overseas partner to allow me to realise my global ambition was my number one aim, and this has been achieved. In the current market the result you have delivered is exceptional.
It was a great pleasure to work with the Cavendish team again having originally worked with them when we sold Naked Wines to Majestic Wine in 2015. John, Rebecca and the team rigorously assessed the market to find the right new owner for a business with dedicated staff and suppliers and the right deal to achieve Naked’s goal of realising capital and simplifying the business.
“Jonathan, thank you to you and your team for your tremendous support and wise counsel during the process. You kept a calm head throughout and successfully charted a course to bring us to this great conclusion. David, the team and I are all delighted with the outcome as we now join forces with Cafento to build the brand to even greater heights. I would highly recommend your services!”
“The team at Cavendish went far beyond what was expected, supporting us through the entire fundraising process. I am certain that the deal with Piper would never have completed in the time frame without their help.”
Jonathan, thank you for all your help, sound advice and hard work over the last year. You very skilfully guided us through a challenging process. As well as a fantastic exit for some very happy shareholders, there is no doubt in my mind that Orlebar Brown has ended up in the right place. Your patience was rewarded!
“Cavendish worked hard and achieved an excellent result for stakeholders. I would certainly recommend their services.”
“The Cavendish team did an excellent job and provided expert advice throughout the transaction and most importantly ensured the deal crossed the line. I am pleased that Jollyes has passed into experienced hands and I truly believe the business has an exciting future ahead.”
“Thank you guys, brilliant work!! Thanks to your advice, the company was well prepared and it all came together very quickly at the end, excellently handled by you and your team. A cracking result for all the OKA shareholders!”
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