Private equity firms court Leeming Bar ice cream business

THE third largest ice cream manufacturer in Europe is considering buy-out proposals from private equity firms in a deal expected to be worth more than £750m.

R&R Ice Cream, which employs about 450 staff at its headquarters in Leeming Bar, near Bedale, is said to be examining bids from Clayton, Dubilier & Rice, Ontario Teachers Pension Plan and PAI Partners.

The firm, which produces posted sales in excess of £400m last year, owns the license to make a range of Nestle ices, runs the FAB lollies and Skinny Cow brands and produces and packages more than 70 per cent of the two-litre supermarket own brand ice cream in the UK.

The bids follow the firm, which formed in 2006 from the merger of Richmond Ice Cream and Roncadin, launching a review of its strategic options last autumn.

R&R has acquired numerous firms in the last two years, including frozen yoghurt brand Yoomoo for an undisclosed sum earlier this month and Eskigel, the largest private-label ice cream producer in Italy for £65m last July.

It has about ten per cent of the UK ice cream market, and is second only to Unilever with its Wall's and Ben & Jerry's brands.

The firm’s directors said they were “delighted” by earnings before tax and interest for the second quarter of 2012 rising by £7.5m over the same period in 2011, particularly in light of last year’s wet spring and summer.

No one at R&R was available for comment today (Sunday, January 27).

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