FAMOUS Brands has bought slightly less than half of catering company By Word of Mouth for an undisclosed amount, it announced on Monday morning.
The deal leaves the catering company’s founder Karen Short and her husband Adrian Short with a controlling stake of 50.1%.
“We are pleased that as founders of the business we remain the majority shareholders and can continue to personally deliver our high-end, boutique service, and drive our ambition to remain a dominant force in the industry,” Short said.
Kevin Hedderwick, Famous Brands’ former CEO who moved to the role of strategic adviser for mergers and acquisitions activity, said this was the group’s first foray into the event catering market in which By Word of Mouth operates.
“A key aspect of this partnership is the opportunity to enter the home meal replacement retail space, through high-end stand-alone stores offering bespoke products created by Karen Short,” Hedderwick said in Monday’s statement.
“This retail business model will resemble the hugely successful “COOK” company in the UK, which produces ready-made meals using ingredients and techniques that ‘a good cook would use at home to ensure meals look and taste homemade’. I am particularly excited about the growth prospects of this component of the business because there is a strong and growing demand for an offering of this kind in the economically resilient upper-end of the South African market.”
Founded in 1993, By Word of Mouth is based in Gauteng, in Linbro Park, and also manages a 400-seater venue, The Polo Room, at the Inanda Polo Club. The business employs more than 200 people.
Famous Brands said the purchase price falls below the JSE’s threshold of a categorised transaction, but is large enough to require Competition Commission approval.
The group has announced a string of acquisitions since Hedderwick moved to the role of head of mergers and acquisitions. On September 1, it announced the R2.1bn acquisition of the UK’s Gourmet Burger Kitchen chain. Source: BD Live