Unilever Announces Acquisition Of UK Healthy Food Startup

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Unilever, the retail giant, has agreed on a deal to acquire Graze, a UK healthy snacks company, at a reported valuation amounting to £150 million.

Graze was established in 2008 by seven friends as an internet-based business. The brand had raised only £2 million from London investors Draper Esprit and Octopus Ventures prior to being acquired by Carlyle, a US buyout group, in 2012.

Graze produces seeds, nuts, snack bars, and trail mixes with no artificial ingredients and Unilever said that the purchase would improve its presence in healthy foods sector.

According to reports, the bidding war for Graze had earned the interest from the likes of Kellogg’s and Pepsi before Unilever successfully finalised the deal. Initially, Carlyle was hoping to attract approximately £300 million for the tech company.

Graze initially started out life as a customisable snack box delivery service. Its products are now sold in major supermarkets such as Sainsbury’s, Costco, and Boots as well as online and direct to the consumers.

Graze joins the ranks of a variety of popular brands that are owned by Unilever, including Marmite and Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream.

The move comes after Alan Jope, the boss of Unilever, said in the earnings report of the company last week that it would be concentrating on accelerating growth in the business, after it disappointed investors by missing key estimates.

Anthony Fletcher, the chief executive of Graze who joined the company in 2009, said that the deal is “a transformational moment in Graze’s growth journey.”

He continued: “We look forward to working closely with the team to keep on inventing new healthy snacks, as well as continuing to work to understand the role technology can play in improving the food industry.”

The president of the food and refreshment business of Unilever, Nitin Paranjpe, said that the retail conglomerate would utilise the technology of Graze for other parts of its e-commerce portfolio.

The move saw three of the seven co-founders end their day-to-day involvement in the business but remain as shareholders.