West Belfast firm Delta bought by Huhtamaki in £80m deal

WEST Belfast's largest indigenous firm Delta Print & Packaging has been acquired by Finnish rival Huhtamaki for £80 million.

The business, founded in 1981 by entrepreneur Terry Cross, now employs almost 300 people.

Delta makes cartons for a string of major global brands including McDonald's, Kellogg's KFC, Tesco and Sainsbury's.

The deal to acquire the firm also includes Delta's recently opened Polish manufacturing operation.

For Huhtamaki, a specialist in fibre-based packaging, the acquisition will add to its two existing locations in the north.

It already employs more than 200 people at its moulded fibre plant in Lurgan and paper recycling unit in Lisburn.

Delta will become part of Huhtamaki's Foodservice Europe-Asia-Oceania business segment.

Mr Cross will remains as senior adviser, helping Huhtamaki to build its folding carton packaging business.

Huhtamaki said it would retain the current Delta management.

Its managing director in Western Europe and UK Rosemary Mason said Delta offered it a chance to expand its offering.

“To date, our product offering has focused on food-to-go packaging such as cups, lids, plates, bowls and cutlery for some of the leading food and foodservice brands in the world," she said.

"The acquisition of Delta, which manufactures board products complementary to our own such as burger clam boxes, fry cartons and flat cartons for many different retail products, will allow Huhtamaki to enter the fast-growing folding carton business in Europe and strengthen our global customer partnerships.”

Mr Cross said that after "35 years on from our first transaction, now is the time for the company to take the next step in what has been, and what will continue to be, a very exciting journey for the company, our employees and our customers".

“It is the innovation, dedication and hard work of our staff here in Belfast, and at our sister site in Poland, that has captured the attention of a global company such as Huhtamaki which is fantastic for a Northern Ireland company."

Invest NI chief executive Alastair Hamilton said the deal represented "a major acquisition and foreign investment into west Belfast".

“Delta Print & Packaging has grown to the strong business it is today under the stewardship of Terry Cross," he said.

"Invest NI has been fortunate to have worked with Terry and his team to support the business’ growth plans and it is a great testament to his endeavours that Delta Print & Packaging has attracted the interests of a global business such as Huhtamaki."

John McGuckian, corporate partner at Tughans which advised Delta on the deal said: "This transaction represents a positive investment in manufacturing for Northern Ireland and secures skilled manufacturing jobs within the Belfast area.”

“Tughans acted across various elements of the large-scale transaction including property, employment, banking and corporate in order to get the landmark deal over the line for our client," he said.

The sale is the biggest acquisition of a west Belfast firm since Oxford Instruments bought specialist camera maker Andor Technology for £176m in 2013.

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