Tayto Crisps owners Manderley swing from profit to loss after major acquisition

Tayto Crisps owner Manderley Food Group had sales of more than £185 million last year, but swung from profit to loss following an acquisition
Tayto Crisps owner Manderley Food Group had sales of more than £185 million last year, but swung from profit to loss following an acquisition

THE Manderley Food Group, which operates the popular Tayto Crisps brand in Northern Ireland and is the UK's the largest producer of snack foods, swung from profit to loss last year following the acquisition of a rival snack firm in Liverpool.

The Tandragee-based company, wholly-owned by the Hutchinson family since its creation in 1956, bought CGC (Liverpool) Ltd and subsidiaries including the Real Pork Crackling Co last June, just days before closing its books for the financial year.

And figures filed at Companies House reveal that although sales at Manderley rose from £174 million to £185.3 million, it went from an after-tax profit of £835,555 in 2017 to a loss of £1,192,830, largely reflecting the price it paid for CGC.

The Manderley Group, whose registered headquarters is in Northamptonshire, is the parent name of the group of companies bought by the Hutchinson family members.

They started a growth spurt in 2006 by buying the Corby and Scunthorpe sites of the former Golden Wonder business, and a year later acquired Sirhowy Valley Foods, makers of the Real Crisps range.

Acquisitions followed of Red Mill Snack foods and then Jonathan Crisp, self-styled as the "crisp for snobs" and renowned for its memorable caricature-type illustrations featured on each pack.

Last year's acquisition of the Real Pork Crackling Co initially triggered an investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), amid fears there could be "a substantial lessening of competition" in UK markets.

But in November the watchdog ruled that, although Tayto and Real Pork Crackling have a high combined share of supply and are close competitors in the supply of pork snacks, "sufficient competitive constraints remain", and therefore the the acquisition could be approved.

The figures reveal that Manderley had 1,410 staff at year-end, up from 1,384 previously, and its overall pay bill went up from £36.7m to £37.8m.

That included payments of £2.3 million to the company's directors, with the highest-paid of these, thought to be chief executive Paul Allen, pocketing £961,011.

But last month Mr Allen resigned as a director after 17 years at the helm, and it is believed he will concentrate on the Genesis Crafty baked goods firm which his Hatch Bros company acquired last year for £1.8m after it went into administration owing creditors close to £4m.

At the time Tayto director Stephen Hutchinson said: "In the time Paul has been with us, he has led the company's growth and expansion, and his dedication and commitment to the Tayto brand has been unparalleled. He is a businessman of vision and entrepreneurial flair and we shall miss him greatly."

Meanwhile KP Snacks Ltd says it enjoyed a "successful" 2018 with growth of 5.5 per cent in the Northern Ireland convenience sector (which excludes large supermarket chains and discounter stores), in which it now boasts a 21.1 per cent value share of the crisps, snacks and nuts market.

KP says it aims to build on that with the launch of two new products locally, including Popchips, one of the UK’s fastest growing bagged snacks, and a unique new folded tortilla snack McCoy’s Muchos in three flavours - nacho cheese, smoky chilli chicken and sour cream and onion.

Also acquired by KP and set for a major push in Northern Ireland is premium crisp brand Tyrrells. These acquisitions follow the purchase last year of Butterkist, the UK’s biggest popcorn brand with a 34 per cent value share.