Young’s gobbled up to create pork and fish giant

Fish finger and scampi group Young’s Seafood is being bought by pork processor Karro to create a firm with around £1.2 billion in sales and more than 5,000 staff.

Karro’s private equity owner CapVest Partners said Grimsby-based Young’s will be combined with Karro to form a  “multi-protein” food giant.

The two firms will operate as separate businesses within the combined group, which will be headed by Karro’s current executive chair Di Walker.

Ms Walker said: “We are very excited about the opportunity to create an ambitious multi-protein food business of considerable scale.

“Young’s and Karro are highly complementary businesses and the combined platform will have strong market positions in two important protein categories that are experiencing consistent long-term growth.”

The deal – for an undisclosed sum – will bring together Karro’s 3,000 staff with Young’s 2,000 across the UK and Ireland.

As well as its Grimsby headquarters, it also has three processing sites in the town, as well as facilities in Annan, Livingston and Fraserburgh.

Karro has its HQ in Malton, North Yorkshire and multiple sites including: in Cookstown in Northern Ireland, Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire, Haverhill, Suffolk and Brydock in Scotland.

It is understood the sale process first kicked off more than a year ago, when Young’s private equity owners – Lion Capital, Bain Capital and HPS Investment Partners – put it out to tender.

The latest sale will mark the second time Young’s has come under CapVest’s ownership, having been bought in 2002 and then sold to Lion Capital six years later in a £1.1 billion deal.

Young’s – which claims to have invented scampi in 1946 – traces its roots back to 1805 when it was founded by Elizabeth Young, with the Young family remaining involved until the late 1980s.

It first started life as a whitebait business before expanding into other fish products, such as scampi and potted shrimps.

It is now well known for its fish fingers, as well as its Chip Shop and Gastro ranges.

Bill Showalter, chief executive of Young’s, said: “We believe this move will be positive for the fish and seafood industry as a whole.

“With CapVest’s existing understanding of our industry, and as part of a multi-protein food group, we will have the opportunity to inspire more consumers to love fish through our fresh, frozen, own-label and branded products.”

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