EAST Kilbride-based Enterprise Foods has brought in new private equity backing in a £30 million deal led by chairman Tony Moloney.
Clydesdale Bank has provided senior debt of £14 million and £3.5m of working capital as part of a deal which provides an exit for two Yorkshire-based investment funds. At the same time the e-commerce company, which helps hundreds of local food suppliers secure listings with major supermarkets, has brought in fresh equity from Hattington Capital.
Mr Moloney, who becomes chief executive of Enterprise Foods, has seen his shareholding fall from around 46 to 48 per cent to 25 per cent.
The remaining equity is held by Hattington, whose team brings significant experience of the major grocery sector, and several senior managers who have been with Mr Moloney since he led the acquisition of Enterprise from founder David Beattie in 2007.
Mr Moloney had been a director and shareholder in the company several years previously, before setting up Anthony Alan Foods, which held the licence to produce and distribute foods under the Weight Watchers brand in the UK, the Benelux countries and the US.
The deal involves Enterprise spinning out of parent group Moloney Technologies, which has interests in software development and ticket kiosks in train and railway stations.
Mr Moloney, who revealed he has also reinvested "significant" sums back into the company, said: "The reason for the timing on this is the company I worked with to buy Enterprise in 2007, which was Yorkshire fund managers, was always based on five to seven year cycle.
"They wanted to return the money to their fund. It was always around this point that we would let them get their investment out and get new investment in for the next growth stage.
"That's the driver behind the timing of everything."
Enterprise, which employs 40 staff across as its operations in Manchester, Barnsley, Kendal and East Kilbride, describes itself as a "conduit" between more than 450 local producers and the grocery multiples.
Operating on a "paperless" buying and selling model, it supplies a network of 137 national blue chip customers such as supermarkets and foodservice companies, delivering products to 7,847 stores across the UK. It has access to more than 36,000 product lines, with a buying team dedicated to growing that range on a daily basis, and allows major players such as the Co-operative and Tesco to provide customers with goods made locally to their stores.
Mr Moloney said: "We can basically handle the whole of their chain nationally, but the products will still be local from local suppliers.
"There's a big drive from the housewife to shop convenience-wise two times a week, instead of the one big shop. [They] want more local and fresh products and the confidence it has come from a short supply chain."