Nisbet family agrees £339m sale to Bunzl

26 February 2024, 09:04

A chef prepares food in a commercial kitchen
Nisbets agrees sales to Bunzl. Picture: PA

Nisbets employs more than 1,800 staff and sells catering products across the UK and Ireland, Northern Europe , Australia and New Zealand.

The family owners of catering equipment firm Nisbets are set to net a multimillion-pound fortune after agreeing a deal to sell the firm to distribution and outsourcing group Bunzl.

Founder Andrew Nisbet will sell an initial 80% stake in the company he founded more than 40 years ago to Bunzl for £339 million in a deal valuing the entire firm at more than £500 million.

Nisbets employs more than 1,800 staff and sells a range of own-brand catering products, with 26 shops in the UK and Ireland and 11 in Australia, as well as offices across Ireland, Holland, Belgium, Germany, France, Australia and New Zealand.

The final sale price to Bunzl may increase, with a further earn-out amount payable depending on the group’s financial performance in 2024, while Bunzl also has the option to buy the remaining 20% stake in Nisbets in the future.

Bunzl chief executive Frank van Zanten said the deal is “an exciting step for Bunzl”.

He said: “Andrew Nisbet has built a high-quality business, with a well-respected management team.

“The business is complementary to our operations in the catering equipment sector and will enhance our own-brand offering and digital capabilities.”

Mr Nisbet, who set up the firm in 1983, will remain with the company as a non-executive director after the deal, with the family continuing to hold a minority stake.

Key West Holdings holds the Nisbet family’s business interests.

Bunzl said the Nisbet management team will also remain after the sale, headed by chairman and chief executive Peter Sephton.

Nisbets made underlying pre-tax profits of £40.2 million on revenues of £498 million on a pro forma basis last year.

Mr Sephton said: “Based on our extensive engagement with them over the past months, it became clear that both parties have a shared vision and a commitment to customers and colleagues that will build on Nisbets’ heritage and growth strategy.

“The acquisition will help drive our strategy for growth by bringing both strategic and operational value to Nisbets.”

It comes after Bunzl also agreed a deal in January to buy distributor Pamark in Finland, which will complete later this month.

The Pamark acquisition marks its first in Finland and takes the number of countries it operates in to 33.

Bunzl announced the deals as it reported a 4.4% rise in underlying pre-tax profits to £853.7 million in 2023 as efforts to boost margins and easing cost inflation helped offset a 2% fall in revenues.

It said it remains on track for 2024 profit guidance, but that a slower-than-expected start to the year in the US is likely to see it deliver slight revenue growth this year, which will be driven by acquisitions, with underlying revenues set to decline slightly.

FTSE 100-listed Bunzl – which supplies businesses around the world with a variety of products, including coffee cups and food labels to department stores and hospitals – agreed 19 acquisitions in 2023, taking its total acquisition spend to £1.7 billion over the last four years.

By Press Association