Crisp giant snaps up £16m-turnover Leeds vending business

A £16m Leeds vending company has been gobbled up by Irish crisp giant Tayto.

Freedom Refreshments, which employs 160, has been acquired by Montagu Group, which was set up by Tayto as an affiliate for the acquisition.

The deal includes Freedom’s subsidiaries LTT Vending, eXpresso PLUS and NIVO.

The undisclosed “multi-million pound” deal is Tayto’s third in England this year having acquired a Devon popcorn business and a London-based snack firm already,

TGL owns Golden Wonder, Mr Porky, REAL Crisps, Jonathan Crisp and Tayto, and the acquisition offers the company access to almost 7,000 vending machines across England.

Freedom turned over £16m in the year to March 2016, with pre-tax profits of just over £425,000.

Paul Allen, chief executive of the Montagu Group, said: “The acquisition of Freedom Refreshments is a key facet of our strategic development programme. While we have a strong share of the vending market in Northern Ireland, we only had limited reach into GB and this deal will enable us to increase our presence significantly within this sector.

“The people at Freedom are experts at what they do, continually developing their brand and subsidiaries through both organic growth and acquisitions.”

“There are several synergies between Tayto Group and Freedom Refreshments and this acquisition will help us to bring our products to a wider audience. Freedom Refreshments turns over around £16million pa and is an established provider of hot and cold drinks and snacks across many sectors, including healthcare, workplace, education and retail.”

Mark Stone, an experienced vending professional, has been appointed as CEO of Freedom Refreshments. He added: “A Tayto Group sister company, Montagu Group, has been established to operate and direct the vending arm of the Group’s business. The vending machines will carry Tayto Group products, where appropriate, but their contents will be driven by consumer demand and will also include an extensive range of hot and cold drinks as well as confectionery.”

Edward Selka, former partner/owner of Freedom Refreshments, added: “After a series of transformations, we have built the company into a thriving, national, vending refreshment and services business with around 160 employees and we are delighted that Montagu Group has purchased the company’s entire share capital.

“We are a family-run company and as the new owner, Montagu Group, is also family-operated, we share many core values. We view this acquisition as an excellent opportunity for Freedom Refreshment’s employees to enjoy a secure future in a positive workplace as the company continues to grow and succeed.”

Tayto Group has increased turnover from £19m a year in 2005 to around £180m. It employs 1,700 people across its operations.

The company is owned by Northern Ireland family, the Hutchinsons, and is headquartered Co Armagh. The Group produces more than 25 million bags of snacks and crisps each week across its six sites, which are based in Tandragee, Corby, Scunthorpe, Westhoughton, Wolverhampton and Devon.