Belfast Telegraph

Musgrave agrees deal for catering company La Rousse

By John Mulligan

Cork-based retail and wholesale group Musgrave, which controls the Mace and Centra chains in Northern Ireland, has agreed a deal to buy La Rousse Foods from Aryzta.

Troubled Aryzta, which has embarked on a major process to turn around its business under new chief executive Kevin Toland, put La Rousse Foods - which has offices in Belfast - up for sale just recently.

Aryzta bought La Rousse, which sells fresh, frozen and ambient fine food to hotels, restaurants and catering firms, in 2015 in a deal that placed an enterprise value of €26.5m (£23m) on the business. The enterprise value included debt. La Rousse had less than €160,000 in bank debt the year before it was acquired, however.

Aryzta acquired the firm from now Switzerland-based businessman and chef Marc Amand, who had worked in the Patrick Guilbaud restaurant in Dublin before establishing La Rousse in 1992 with his future wife.

In its 2015 financial year, La Rousse posted turnover of €36.3m (£32m) and a €1.5m (£1.3m) pre-tax profit.

The sale of La Rousse to family-owned Musgrave requires approval from the Republic's competition watchdog, the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission.

With offices in Dublin and Belfast, La Rousse serves more than 1,500 customers around Ireland.

Musgrave's intention is that La Rousse Foods will continue to operate as a standalone brand following its acquisition. La Rousse employs more than 100 people.

"La Rousse Foods is an excellent strategic fit for our business and complements our market-leading foodservice offer," said Musgrave chief executive Chris Martin.

"The acquisition forms part of our Growing Good Business strategy, which focuses on growing our brands in the food market across the island of Ireland."

Aryzta holds its annual general meeting in Dublin tomorrow.

Shareholders will be looking for an update from Mr Toland, who was previously the chief executive of the DAA.

Belfast Telegraph

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