Burts Chips moves into popcorn to sweeten aim to become UK’s No 1 snack company

By Gill Hyslop contact

- Last updated on GMT

MD David Nairn intends to grow Burts Chips into a main player in the UK snacking market by extending its better-for-you portfolio. Pic Burts Chips
MD David Nairn intends to grow Burts Chips into a main player in the UK snacking market by extending its better-for-you portfolio. Pic Burts Chips
Devon-based Burts Chips has acquired popcorn maker Savoury & Sweet in a $10m deal in a move to become a big contender in the UK premium snacking market.

According to David Nairn, MD of Burts Chips, the deal is aimed to grow the artisanal crisp company into a £100m giant, “to become the UK’s biggest player within premium snacking”​ by 2022.

He noted Burts has grown significantly in recent years, reporting a growth of 180% since from its £11.4m turnover in 2013 to an anticipated £37m (post-acquisition) for 2017.

Health fuelling growth

He added the growth of healthy snacking has fuelled market growth and the acquisition will allow Burts to diversify its Better For You portfolio of products to include a wider range of healthy snacks, including popcorn and popchips.

“We will grow the popping business,”​ said Nairn, noting Burts will take control of Savoury & Sweet’s 71,000sqft production facility in Leicester, as well as the firm’s 103-strong workforce.

A £10m investment to install fryers and start crisp production at the Leicester facility will create up to 60 new jobs and quadruple its current turnover of around £9m per annum.

However, Nairn plans to headquarter the entire Burts empire from Plymouth – and will plough an additional £2m to automate its city factory to increase its current potato frying capacity of 200 tons a week.

The acquisition is the company’s first since the business was founded 20 years ago, but will not be the last.

“While organic growth of our existing operation in Plymouth is anticipated to reach £70 million, acquisitions of like-minded and complementary businesses will help us accelerate our expansion.

“There’s probably other acquisitions we’ll look at this year. But only in the UK,”​ said Nairn.

Popping sales

Savoury & Sweet produces popcorn and healthy snacks for household-name brands and own-label range, including Lord Poppington and Popcorn & Me. The business will be rebranded as Burts Snacks.

According to Euromonitor, popcorn has outstripped potato chip growth in the UK, with sales up more than 10% in 2017 to over £152m, making it the fastest-growing grocery product on the market.

Related topics: Business, Bakery, Snacks

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