INSPIRATION: Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne founded the specialist food company. Picture: Stewart Attwood
Founded by Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne after she developed a special bread for her gluten-intolerant son, Genius agreed to buy the Free From business from Finsbury Foods to help maintain its rapid growth.
The deal will give Edinburgh-based Genius control of the United Central Bakeries' operation at Bathgate and a plant in Hull where its products are manufactured.
This will allow the company to speed up the development of products like cakes as it looks to cash in on growing demand for gluten-free foods. It will also gain a capability to produce own-label goods for retailers.
"Lucinda has some fantastic new bakery innovations," said chief executive Roz Cuschieri. "She created something remarkable four years ago. You put that manufacturing experience together with that creative genius and you have something that's very special."
Ms Cuschieri said shareholders, who include Sir Bill Gammell, the Scottish oil and gas tycoon, see great scope to develop Genius in the UK and in overseas markets.
The company already sells in North America and Spain. Ms Cuschieri said Genius is set to move into other European markets and a new continent, without giving details.
The acquisition is being part funded with around £10m raised from private investors and a £7.5m package from HSBC.
Ms Cuschieri said the fundraising was supported by existing shareholders and new investors, whom she did not name.
Sir Bill, Ms Bruce-Gardyne and former
Scottish & Newcastle and C&C Group chief executive John Dunsmore have the biggest shareholdings.
The founder of Cairn Energy, Sir Bill is a coeliac so can not digest gluten. He chairs Genius, while Mr Dunsmore is deputy chairman.
"We have a really committed shareholding base who are very interested in supporting the global development of this brand," said Ms Cuschieri.
She added: "Could future acquisitions be on the radar for us? They absolutely could."
Ms Cuschieri said a flotation is not on the agenda for Genius, which has spurned a number of takeover approaches. She said the company intends to remain based in Scotland saying: "This is a Scottish growth story."
An experienced chef, Ms Bruce-Gardyne spent 18 months developing a gluten- free bread so her son Robin could enjoy a diet that included sandwiches.
Turnover at Genius has grown from £1.4m in 2009 to around £20m last year.
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