Belfast Telegraph

Ex-Tayto boss branches out into pasta in new food deal

Entrepreneurs Paul Allen (left) and Michael Blaney have bought Pasta King
Entrepreneurs Paul Allen (left) and Michael Blaney have bought Pasta King
Margaret Canning

By Margaret Canning

Northern Ireland entrepreneurs Michael Blaney and Paul Allen have bought over a Devon-based pasta company for an undisclosed sum.

Pasta King provides meals to schools in Britain - and is already operating in schools in Northern Ireland.

The 25-year-old family business has 55 staff and supplies more than 13 million 'grab and go' meals into primary and secondary schools.

It has an annual turnover of around £8m and supplies chilled sauces through 19 regional distribution centres using field sales managers.

A spokeswoman said the firm's new owners hope to branch out beyond supplying schools in Northern Ireland. In the rest of the UK it also supplies universities as well as the care, leisure and health sectors.

Michael Blaney is the former owner of Autoline Insurance Group, though he retained its wealth management arm Ashtree Financial when the group was sold earlier this year.

And Paul Allen is no stranger to the food industry as the former chief executive of Tayto and the owner of Genesis Crafty bakery, which he bought out of administration last year.

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Mr Allen said: "Pasta King provides meal solutions comprising mostly pasta with made to order sauces.

"The meals are served hot from pasta bars which are loaned to the company's customer base. As a healthy and tasty food offering, Pasta King has become very popular in primary and secondary schools across the UK and satisfies government standards on salt, saturated fat and vegetable content."

Mr Allen added: "The company is in a strong position and there are a wide range of expansion opportunities to explore such as our recent trialling of a range of single serve cafe meal boxes for the retail and healthcare sectors."

And he said that there were "synergies" between Pasta King and the other businesses he and Mr Blaney had been involved with.

"We believe that our combined insight into the market, coupled with our extensive network, will further Pasta King's growth. We hope to build on this acquisition and look forward to working closely with the dynamic team at Pasta King."

The deal was supported by Keystone Law and Allied Irish Bank, Mr Allen said. "The service and assistance provided by both organisations has been outstanding."

And Mr Blaney explained the company was now offering cuisine options beyond pasta. "Pasta King also recently launched an exciting new range of curries and Mexican concepts such as burritos and nachos, which will undoubtedly enhance its appeal to customers," he said.

Belfast Telegraph