Kettle crisps owner Campbell eyes sale of posh snack maker

Posh crisp maker Kettle could be sold after its US food giant owner Campbell hired advisers to assess the future of the snack brand.

The Press Association understands that Barclays has been hired by Campbell to explore a sale of the crisp business, as it looks to generate cash following recent profit warnings.

Kettle, which employs almost 500 people across two Norfolk sites in the UK, was bought by soup-maker Campbell as part of its 2017 acquisition of American food group Snyder’s-Lance.

Snyder’s-Lance then bought Kettle, which also includes the Metcalfe’s Skinny popcorn brand, as part of Diamond Foods for 1.2 billion US dollars in March 2016.

A city source told the Press Association that the UK arm of Kettle could be worth “between £50 million and £100 million”.

It is understood Campbell is aiming to sell the global Kettle Foods business as whole.

The sale plans come after the UK arm dived into the red following “very intense” competition in the UK market and increased brand investment, it said in companies house accounts posted this week.

It fell to a £4.3 million operating loss in the seven-month period to July 31 2018, slumping from a £51,000 profit for the 2017 full-year.

It reported revenues of £51.1 million for the seven-month period as its market share declined against the previous year.

Kettle Chips was launched in 1978 in Oregon by Cameron Healy, before starting UK production from a converted shoe factory in Norwich 10 years later.

The appointment of Barclays follows a raft of deals in the crisp segment last year, with 11 acquisitions involving bagged snack brands in the UK in 2018.

The flurry of activity included the sale of rival posh crisp-makers Tyrell’s and Pipers, bought by Intersnack and PepsiCo respectively.

Campbell Soup announced plans to sell its Bolthouse Farms business to private equity for 510 million US dollars last month as it looks to generate cash.

In August it also announced plans to sell its international and fresh food business, following pressure from activist investor Dan Loeb to reevaluate its portfolio of brands.

Campbell and Barclays both declined to comment.