Crumbs! Fox’s Biscuit business sold to Nutella owner in £246 million deal

Britain’s Fox’s Biscuits business has been sold to Italian Nutella and Kinder chocolate giant Ferrero in a £246 million deal.

The Italian confectioner has agreed to buy Fox’s Biscuits from supermarket chicken supplier 2 Sisters Food Group, including the biscuit factories in Batley, West Yorkshire, and Kirkham in Lancashire.

Fox’s Biscuits is one of Britain’s best-known biscuit brands, making household names such as Rocky Bars, Party Rings, Crunch Creams, Crinkle Creams, Chocolatey and Viennese, as well as making own-label biscuits for major retailers.

Its history dates back to 1853 and the business has annual sales of around £157 million.

Inquiry into allegations of food safety breaches
Inquiry into allegations of food safety breaches

The deal – which is set to complete within months – marks Ferrero’s second biscuit takeover in the past year, coming after it bought Royal Dansk firm Kelsen last September.

Ferrero said it wants to “increase its relevance in the rich and fine biscuits category”, having also acquired Biscuits Delacre in 2016.

Ranjit Singh Boparan, president of 2 Sisters owner Boparan Holdings, said: “Fox’s Biscuits has always been an attractive brand and as one of only two major independent biscuit makers in the UK, it is a prized asset in this market.

“We have listened to many interested parties over the years, but we have always been clear that Fox’s would only be sold to the right new home, at the right time and for the right value.

“This sale represents another significant deal for us, underlining our commitment to our business turnaround.”

As part of the deal, 2 Sisters will keep the third biscuit bakery at Uttoxeter, which produces own-label biscuits for major retailers.

Mr Boparan – known as the “chicken king” because of 2 Sisters’ large scale involvement in the poultry trade – bought Fox’s when he acquired Northern Foods for £342 million in 2011.

He also took on Northern’s Goodfella’s pizzas brand as part of the deal.

The chicken tycoon was accused of trying to “impugn the impartiality” of a parliamentary inquiry into food standards at 2 Sisters by sending out Fox’s biscuits to MPs as Christmas gifts in 2017.

The then chair of the environment, food and rural affairs committee, Neil Parish, said it was an “inappropriate gesture” amid an ongoing probe, but 2 Sisters insisted it was just an annual goodwill gesture.