Belfast Telegraph

Ulsterman's booming baby food business cost just £1

By Simon Rowe

An Ulster entrepreneur who bought a former Heinz baby food factory in Cumbria for just £1 has dramatically turned the business around, posting revenues of £7.5m and rescuing 90 jobs.

Monaghan-born Ross McMahon acquired the 11-acre site from the firm when it disposed of non-core assets ahead of its merger with Kraft in 2015.

The Clones businessman has since created an extra 30 positions by developing a new range of baby nutrition brands at his company, Kendal Nutricare.

The food scientist, who studied at UCD, is targeting China's $2.4bn baby milk formula business and expanded into 6,000 retail outlets there in February.

Company accounts for McMahon's business, Kendamil, reveal that he purchased the factory for a nominal £1 from the global food giant Heinz.

Land, plant and equipment at the site are currently valued at around £10m.

Industry sources estimate it would have cost Heinz £8m to close the Kendal factory, but instead McMahon took over all liabilities, including the transfer of staff under employment regulations.

Business is booming at Kendal Nutricare, and it is on target to hit a turnover of £12m (€14m) this year and is aiming for a turnover of £31m (€35m) by 2021.

Although the company recorded a balance-sheet loss of £700,000, this was after significant investment by McMahon in new machinery, new IT management systems and staff retraining.

Kendal Nutricare has retained contracts to make infant cereals for Heinz, and sells to north Africa and Southeast Asia.

The company also has contracts with dairy giants including Glanbia, Carberry Foods and Kerry Foods.

Belfast Telegraph