Media Bites 26 Feb: Asda, DS Smith/Mondi, ABF/Primark
26 February 2021
McCain launches seasoned chips trio to mimic restaurant options
26 February 2021

Top story

Jammie Dodgers and Wagon Wheels maker Burton’s Biscuits is being put up for sale after its owner appointed bankers to explore options.

Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, which bought Burton’s in 2013, has hired advisors at Stamford Partners to run the process for the UK’s second largest biscuit manufacturer over the coming months, The Grocer has learned.

City sources said the auction was expected to be highly competitive and could fetch upwards of £360m after demand for biscuits skyrocketed during the pandemic as shoppers stocked up cupboards with household favourites throughout lockdown.

The auction is expected to involve French private label supplier Biscuit International, acquired by PE firm Platinum Equity a year ago, Fox’s owner Ferrero and McVitie’s maker Pladis, along with a host of private equity houses.

Demand for biscuits soared as the UK went into lockdown in March, with sales in supermarkets jumping 21% in the four weeks to 22 March [Kantar]. While demand has flattened since, Burton’s brands continued to grow throughout 2020, with retail sales of Wagon Wheels up 18%, Jammie Dodgers up 5.4% and Maryland Cookies up 1.8%, according to The Grocer’s Top Products Survey with Nielsen.

Burton’s 2020 accounts have yet to be published at Companies House, but EBITDA is now understood to be back around the £30m mark.

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Morning update

Pets at Home has had a stronger than expected start to 2021 as now expects full year pre-tax profits to be ahead of previous guidance.

The pet care business has so far this year overcome renewed challenges from higher Covid infection rates and restrictions on a national level, as well as potential supply disruption relating to the UK’s exit from the European Union.

It said its performance over the last eight weeks has been ahead of expectations, with continued strong and broad-based growth across all channels and categories.

Therefore, based on trading year to date, it now anticipates full-year underlying pre-tax profit, including the previously announced repayment of business rates relief of £28.9m, to be approximately £85m, which is ahead of its previous guidance of at least £77m.

It commented: “While recent positive progress around vaccinations for Covid-19 reduces the level of uncertainty ahead, our priority remains safeguarding the health, safety and wellbeing of all of our colleagues, partners and customers.”

The Group will announce its full year preliminary results on 27 May 2021.

On the markets this morning, the FTSE 100 is down 0.2% to 6,642.2pts after opening as low as 6,566.7pts in early trading.

Pets at Home is up 2.6% to 392.8p after this morning’s profit forecast hike, Reckitt Benckiser is up 2.1% to 6,074p and Sainsbury’s is up 0.9% to 231.5p.

Fallers include Marston’s, down 1.8% to 94.5p, Premier Foods, down 1.8% to 89.3p and Just Eat Takeaway.com, down 1.6% to 6,936p.

Yesterday in the City

The FTSE 100 edged back 0.1% to 6,651.9pts yesterday.

Associated British Foods, which issued a pre-close update yesterday, fell 0.7% to 2,421p as it revealed the renewed lockdown measures had cost Primark £1.1bn in lost sales.

Other fallers included Total Produce, down 5.6% to 170p, Greggs, down 4.1% to 2,160p, Pets at Home, down 3.4% to 383p, Coca-Cola European Partners, down 2.6% to €43.05, and Ocado, down 1.8% to 2,245p.

The day’s risers included DS Smith, up 5.7% on merger rumours with rival Mondi to 405.9p, Bakkavor, up 3% to 89p, AG Barr, up 2.9% to 504p, SSP Group, up 2.1% to 350.4p, Carr’s Group, up 2% to 129.5p and McBride, up 2% to 83p.

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