Food firm to be sold to Americans in £2.2bn deal
Brakes Group, the catering supplier, is set to be taken over by American food distributor Sysco in a £2.2 billion deal.
European competition authorities will need to approve the acquisition of the Ashford-based company, which supplies fresh, refrigerated and frozen food to 50,000 pubs, restaurants, hotels, hospitals, schools and contract caterers across Europe.
If approved, Sysco will repay about £1.6 billion of Brakes’ financial debt, and it would operate as a standalone company within its new US owner.
Brakes, which employs 15,000 people across Europe, will continue to be led by chief executive Ken McMeikan should the deal be completed as expected in July. His management team and the rest of the employee base will remain in place, with 729 staff working in Ashford at its headquarters at Enterprise House on the Eureka Business Park in Kennington and a contact centre in Bridge Road, Ashford.
Sysco chief executive Bill DeLaney said: “This transaction will unite Sysco with a leading food service distributor in Europe with demonstrated capability to sustainably grow its business over time.
“Beginning with a common customer-centric mindset, our companies are strategically aligned with compatible cultures and similar business models.”
Brakes Group was founded as Brake Bros (Poultry Packers) in 1958 by brothers William, Frank and Peter Brake as a poultry supplier to caterers across Britain.
They opened a cooked-food factory at Lenham in the 1960s, mainly producing ready meals for the pub market.
The business listed on the London Stock Exchange in 1986. The founding family sold its shareholding in 2002 and it was bought by present owners Bain Capital Private Equity in 2007.
Dwight Poler, managing director of Bain Capital Private Equity, which has invested more than £100 million in the firm, said: “Since we bought Brakes Group in 2007, the business has been transformed with an e-commerce platform, multi-temperature distribution infrastructure, and customer service enhancements.
“There is still a huge market opportunity ahead that I am confident Brakes Group is very well placed to deliver with Sysco.”
What do you think? Write to Kentish Express, 34-36 North Street, Ashford TN24 8JR or email firstname.lastname@example.org Brakes boss Ken McMeikan said: “It’s very exciting for Brakes Group to be joining the recognised worldwide leader in food service distribution.
“Last year we said we would look for the best strategic option for Brakes Group’s next stage of development.
“Our mission is simple: to help businesses who serve food to thrive, and becoming part of the Sysco family will help us get closer toward achieving that great outcome for our customers, colleagues and suppliers.”
The Ashford headquarters of Brakes group, which is being taken over by Sysco