MBO at Just Love Food Company

Entrepreneur Mike Woods has completed the management buyout of Just Love Food Company, the business he set up in 2009 after two of his children were diagnosed with a severe nut allergy. The Caerphilly-based provider of nut-free, vegan, gluten and milk-free cakes is now a supplier to major supermarkets, including Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury's, and Morrisons. The £3.8m-turnover business, which employs 70 people, has recently launched a caterpillar cake called Archie which is suitable for vegans.

Supported by a £750,000 loan and equity funding package provided by the Development Bank of Wales, Woods has been able to buyout existing shareholders and take back control of his company, with the Development Bank taking a 30 per cent equity stake. Gambit Corporate Finance acted as lead advisor to the management team of Just Love Food Company and project managed the transaction to completion.

Managing director Woods has been joined by three new private investors with a combined equity stake of 22 per cent. George Adams, Chris Smith and Tom Carroll, bring with them a wealth of experience – with Smith and Adams previously managing director and chairman respectively of Marshfield Bakery. Carroll is the former chief operating officer at Unilever.

The new board will be chaired by George Adams, who is currently chair of Rave Coffee and Banner, a school uniform business. He said: "Our vision is to be the most trusted, innovative and inclusive celebration cake brand with a business that benefits our team, customers and the community. Mike's original insight, born out of personal experience coupled with the support of the Development Bank of Wales, means that we have all the ingredients necessary for the next stage of the journey. It’s a recipe for success."

The family-run business – including Mike Woods' daughter Danika who works as a marketing manager – is now looking forward to a bright future.

Mike Woods, said: "The combined support of Gambit and the Development Bank has been instrumental as we focus on restructuring the business. We’ve got an exciting future. The mix of equity and loan from the Development Bank of Wales means that we’ve got ongoing support and counsel, as well as the working capital to deliver our vision to be the most inclusive celebration cake brand."

Jonathan Scott, director at Gambit Corporate Finance, who advised on the fund raising for the management buyout, added: "Given Mike’s extraordinary passion and energy for the business, we look forward to seeing the business go from strength to strength in the rapidly growing market for ‘free-from’ food products."

Senior investment executive Steve Galvin and investment executive Ruby Harcombe completed the deal for the Development Bank.

Ruby Harcombe said: "Just Love Food Company is a pioneering manufacturer of dietary and lifestyle-specific products with an excellent shelf-presence with the leading supermarkets. As developers of first-to-market celebration cakes, they’re meeting the requirements of the modern consumer at a time when we are all increasingly conscious of nutrition and healthy living."

Berry Smith acted for Just Love Food Company and Blake Morgan for the Development Bank of Wales.

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