NorthEdge backs MBO of £13.5m turnover soft drinks firm

Clearly Drinks

NorthEdge Capital has invested in a soft drinks manufacturer, bottler and distributor operating in the fast-growing flavoured spring water sector.

Based in Sunderland, Clearly Drinks specialises in sugar-free products, with brands including Perfectly Clear, 1870 Mixers, and Northumbria Spring, all of which are sourced from the firm’s on-site spring.

It offers flexible processing for its customers, including short and long runs, available in PET and glass, and provides contract bottling services for branded drinks companies across the globe.

The company has a workforce of more than 70 people and will report turnover of £13.5m in the 12 months to December 2016.

The private equity firm is backing the company’s existing management team led by Finn O’Driscoll and Martin Thornton.

NorthEdge’s investment will support the management team on the planned investment in the plant, sales resource and to deliver a pipeline of new product development.

The deal was led by NorthEdge’s John Rastrick and is the fourth investment from the £315m NorthEdge Capital Fund II.

Rastrick and NorthEdge investment manager Nicola McQuaid will join the company’s board as non-executive directors and Peter Cheung, also chairman of ex-NorthEdge portfolio company Accrol Group Plc which listed on AIM in June 2016, will join as chairman.

Rastrick said: “As more and more health-conscious shoppers look for alternatives to calorie-packed beverages following the pending introduction of the sugar tax, the demand for sugar-free, naturally flavoured products will continue to grow. Clearly Drinks is well placed to be at the forefront of that movement, and we are looking forward to working with the firm’s experienced management team to convert the pipeline of exciting new product development opportunities in this evolving market.”

Finn O’Driscoll, chief executive at Clearly Drinks, said: “We are excited about what we can achieve together, and with a buoyant market and strong team in place, this company is poised to go from strength to strength.”

NorthEdge was supported by Grant Thornton, Bond Dickinson, CIL, Henderson, PWC and Syngroup. The company was advised by Livingstone Partners, DWF and Saffery Champness.

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