Rutland Partners is pleased to announce that on 5 August 2019 it completed the acquisition of a majority share of Hereford Contract Canning (HCC) Limited ("HCC").
HCC is the second largest contract canning provider in the UK and is differentiated by its focus on low to medium sized batch runs of drinks with complexities in mixing, blending and canning for a wide range of domestic and international customers targeting the UK consumer market. The market for HCC's services has gown significantly with rising consumer demand for flavoured beverages of all types and ready to drink products. This rapid expansion is being further driven of late by the move away from plastic products in favour of canning options. As a result, demand for contract canning far outstrips supply in the UK market.
HCC is known for its quality control, production flexibility and strong operational capabilities and has been granted grade 'A' accredited status by the British Retail Consortium, which has delivered loyal and reliable customer relationships. HCC's well invested infrastructure has led to strong growth through phased capital expenditure in the company's manufacturing and packaging facilities, which have an increased capacity.
Rutland will be adding to the management team through the introduction of Julian Aitken as CEO and Robert Leechman as Non-Executive Chairman who will work alongside the existing team and he founders of HCC, John Hibberd and Paul Burton, who remain shareholders in the business. They bring a wealth of drinks industry experience, which will complement the strong operational management of HCC led by Richard Leach. Helen Flear will act as interim Finance Director and oversee a transition programme while a new long-term Finance Director is recruited.
In response to strong customer demand, further investment is also planned to significantly increase HCC's canning capacity through investment in the existing production facilities as well as further expansion. Rutland's investment in HCC represents an existing opportunity to support a capex led expansion and organisational transformation of a strategically important business to deliver high growth in the growing UK market.
HCC represents the eighth investment from Rutland Fund III. The team leading the transaction for Rutland was Nick Morrill, David Wardrop and Gessica Howarth.
David Wardrop, Partner at Rutland, said: "We are very pleased to have completed our investment in HCC. HCC has a strong position in an attractive market and is well placed for future growth, which we are looking to accelerate with significant further investment in the business. We look forward to working with HCC to develop the business over the coming years.
Julian Aitken, newly appointed CEO at HCC, said: "I am delighted to be joining Hereford Contract Canning as CEO. The business has developed over the last 8 years to meet the needs of a growing and innovative UK drinks market and I am looking forward to working with the highly skilled team whose ethos is one of exceptional quality and meeting customers' aspirations. HCC are now in a fantastic position to move the business to the next level with Rutland's support.