CapVest acquires seafood company to create enlarged UK food group

Private equity company buys Young’s Seafood for second time

CapVest, the London-based private equity company founded by Cavan man Seamus Fitzpatrick, has acquired Young's Seafood through one of its subsidiaries.

Karro Food Group, a UK pork processor that CapVest acquired in 2017, has bought the UK seafood business. CapVest previously owned the business before selling it in 2008.

The new, enlarged group will have sales of about £1.2 billion (€1.34 billion) and employ more than 5,000 staff across Britain and Ireland. The value of the deal was not disclosed.

More than 1,100 of Karro's employees are based in Northern Ireland through its pork processing facility in Cookstown, and its McGee's butchery concessions. The business supplies fresh pork, sausages, bacon and gammon into the North and the Republic.

While the deal creates an enlarged group, Karro and Young’s will operate as two separate businesses. Karro executive chairwoman Di Walker has been appointed chief executive of the new entity.

The deal leaves CapVest with two major food groups operating in both Ireland and Britain.

The private equity company, established in 1999, set up Valeo Foods in 2010 through the merger of Batchelors with Origin Enterprise's consumer foods unit.

A year later it went on to buy the Jacob Fruitfield Food Group and it now controls a raft of brands such as Robert Roberts, Odlums, Fox's mints, Erin, Kelkin and Chef.

"We are very excited about the opportunity to create an ambitious multi-protein food business of considerable scale," Ms Walker said. "Young's and Karro are highly complementary businesses and the combined platform will have strong market positions in two important protein categories that are experiencing consistent long-term growth."

Peter Hamilton

Peter Hamilton

Peter Hamilton is a contributor to The Irish Times specialising in business