Chivers buys brands from Unilever


Chivers Ireland, which was the subject of a 1999 management buyout, has made its first major acquisition with the purchase of the Goodalls, YR Sauce and Kandee Sauces brands from Unilever.

Chivers managing director Mr Liam O'Rourke would not comment on the price of the acquisition, but industry sources said it was likely the price was slightly less than the €5 million turnover of the three brands. Mr O'Rourke did say the three Unilever brands would increase Chivers turnover from €30 million to €35 million.

Goodalls is the number-two brand in herbs and spices and is thought to be the brand with the highest margin. YR and Kandee sauces are lower margin and compete against major brands such as Heinz and Chef.

The three brands will complement Chivers's existing portfolio, which includes Chivers jam, marmalade, jelly, canned fruit and vegetables, Hartley portions, Harrissons preserves and other brands including Hayward's pickles, Lloyd Grossman sauces, Kia-Ora and Tate & Lyle.

"It is our first major acquisition since the MBO in 1999 and gives us a great opportunity to incorporate these three brands into our growing brand portfolio," said Mr O'Rourke.

The sale of the three brands is part of Unilever's strategy to concentrate on its major brands. In Ireland, these include HB ice cream, Birds Eye frozen food, Lyons tea, Flora spreads, Knorr soups, Hellmans mayonnaise, Ragu sauces and Ambrosia.

The sale of the brands to Chivers will not involve any job losses at Unilever, with staff involved with the brands being redeployed.

The sale of three household brands by Unilever is part of a trend by multinationals to concentrate on major global brands and dispose of smaller more local brands.

Nestlé Ireland is currently in the process of trying to sell its factory in Tallaght and also sell a number of brands including Fruitfield jams, Chef sauces and confectionery brands such as Silvermints, Double Centre, Scots Clan and Yorkshire Toffee.

The Irish brands are on sale as part of a major brand disposal in Ireland and Britian, with household name products such as Crosse & Blackwell, Gale's, Sarson's and Sun-Pat on the block. Nestlé is understood to have received proposals from a number of trade and financial buyers but no sale of the Irish and British assets has yet been announced.