Peters Ice Cream sold to UK-based R&R Ice Cream

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 28th May 2014
Peters Ice Cream sold to UK-based ice cream company R&R

After speculation earlier in the week, it has been confirmed that Pacific Equity Partners (PEP) has sold ice cream brand Peters Food Group Limited (Peters), one of Australia’s oldest consumer businesses, to UK-based R&R Ice Cream plc (R&R), backed by funds advised by French private equity firm PAI Partners (PAI).

The terms of the deal are not disclosed but it has been rumoured that the price was in the vicinity of A$450 million. This compares with the rumoured acquisition price from Nestle in July 2012 of about A$300 million.

Last week PEP floated its stake in hospitality business Spotless on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX).

Peters sale

Under the agreement, R&R will acquire Peters, with its portfolio of household name ice creams including Drumstick, Connoisseur, Peters Original and Maxibon. Since PEP purchased Peters from Nestlé in 2012, Peters has undergone a significant transformation driven by investment in its core brands, substantial new product development and improvement in operating costs, under the leadership of CEO, Stephen Audsley. It generates annual sales of circa A$269 million.

According to market research organisation Nielsen’s ‘Retail World Grocery Guide 2012’, the Peters Ice Cream portfolio had 29.7 per cent value and 27 per cent volume share of the overall $992 million ice cream category. Peters Ice Cream had 31.7 per cent value and 30.2 per cent volume share of the $486 million multipack ice cream segment, 28 per cent value and 26 per cent volume share of the $483 million tub ice cream segment, and 32.1 per cent value and 31.1 per cent volume share of the $19.8 million frozen desserts segment.

Peters Ice Cream was founded in 1907 by American expatriate Fred Peters. The Company was taken over by Adelaide Steamship Company (AdSteam) in the late 1980s, and then by Pacific Dunlop (now known as Ansell). Pacific Dunlop sold its food assets in the mid-1990s, and Peters Ice Cream was acquired by Nestle, which sold Peters to Pacific Equity Partners on mid-2012.

“The successful transformation of the Peters business underscores our ability to combine outstanding management, operational experience and industry knowledge to individual companies, resulting in strong returns for our investors,” said Tony Duthie, Pacific Equity Partners Managing Director. “We are pleased that a company of R&R’s pedigree will help drive the future of the Peters’ business alongside the existing skilled and committed Australian management team,” he said.

Founded in 1985, R&R is the largest private label ice cream manufacturer in Europe and the second largest ice cream manufacturer overall in Europe. Its branded portfolio includes the Mondelez and Nestlé brands (including Cadbury Dairy Milk, Oreo, Milka, Smarties and Kit-Kat) as well as brands such as Disney, YooMoo frozen yogurt and Kelly’s of Cornwall. Revenues for the year ending 31 December 2013 were approximately A$968 million.

R&R said it was “fully committed” to continuing to invest in Peters and the Company’s long history of innovation. The existing Australian executive leadership team will continue to develop the Peters business locally and as a part of the broader global R&R business.

By combining the two companies, R&R said it was “further establishing its position as a world leader in the ice cream manufacturing market with a unique presence both in the European and Australian markets and significant increased potential for international expansion”.

“We are delighted to have come to an agreement with Peters and PEP,” said Ibrahim Najafi, CEO of R&R. “Peters is an iconic Australian business and the leader in the Australian ice cream manufacturing market; it will be an exciting complement to R&R’s European presence,” he said.

Peters said manufacturing would continue at its facility in Mulgrave in the State of Victoria.

“Peters remains a proudly Australian company employing around 500 people across Australia,” said Stephen Audsley, Peters Chief Executive Officer. “With the backing of R&R, Peters will continue to invest in its market leading brands including Drumstick and Connoisseur and in its long history of innovation,” he said.

Financial advisers to PEP were Morgan Stanley, Allens provided legal advice and PWC provided accounting and tax advice. Financial advisers to R&R were Rothschild, Allen & Overy provided legal advice and KPMG provided accounting and tax advice.

PEP All Dressed Up With Somewhere to Go

The very successful private sale by PEP of Peters Ice Cream follows PEP’s involvement in the public float of Australian hospitality company Spotless, which was listed on the ASX last week.

Spotless, which owns catering and foodservice brands such as Epicure, Mustard and Alliance, said the listing was an “important milestone” in its history, “underscoring the stability and strength of the business” following the changes made over the past couple of years.

PEP will remain a major shareholder post listing.

Spotless said the listing had allowed it to pay down debt, as well as granting access to capital markets for future growth.