The Finnish food conglomerate’s acquisition of the group, which employs 250 people and has production facilities in Leicester and London, is part of a strategy to increase its share of the Western European snack and breakfast food markets, according to a Raisio statement.
The deal follows Raisio’s acquisition of British snack maker Glisten last year, and will see the UK become the largest market for Raisio’s food business with annual net sales in the country of around €150 million.
Investec was the largest institutional investor in Big Bear, first backing it in 2003 as a newly-formed company when it acquired Fox’s Confectionery from parent Northern Foods in a management buy-out. Joint chairmen Paul Wilkinson and John Jackson, and chief executive Mario Giannotta led the buy-out.
Raisio chief executive Matti Rihko says Big Bear will be merged into the company’s Western European businesses, primarily Glisten, adding that Raisio will continue its acquisition strategy.
He comments, ‘With the acquisition of Big Bear Group, Raisio will strengthen its footprint in Great Britain and Western Europe, [while] the company’s brand business is growing as planned. Big Bear… has a very strong market position in interesting and suitable sized categories.’