Posted: 02/02/2017

Cottage Delight to stay ‘indie’ after buy-out

cottage delight fudgeCottage Delight and its new owner have reaffirmed their commitment to independent retailers but said future growth plans will also include a strategy for foodservice and export expansion.

Vestey Holdings bought the Leek-based producer – whose lines include fudge, preserves and condiments – for its Fine Foods Group from owner and founder Nigel Cope in December for an undisclosed sum.

Cottage Delight’s managing director Jason Moody, who has moved across under the new owners, told FFD he had been given a year to come up with a growth strategy and has his sights set on a “major opportunity” in foodservice and export markets. 

He said Cottage Delight would not be going into the multiples. “That is absolutely, categorically not the case. We are absolutely focused on the independent trade. That’s a really important message.”

Moody added: “Vestey want to be satisfied they’ve got the right people here and they are very keen to respect the culture,” said Moody.

The business had undergone significant growth in the early 2000s, he said, but in the past 10 years it had been “relatively static”.

He added that Vestey had the resources and knowledge to invest in Cottage Delight “and take us to the next level”. 

“There’s a real opportunity to invest in the production unit. If we are going to be successful, then we’ve got to look at the way we are producing. At the moment we are restricted.”

Paddy Lyell, managing director of Fine Foods Group, confirmed that independents would remain a focus of the business. 

“We are interested in fine food manufacturing of which Cottage Delight has really good products and really good customers.”

Lyell said the quality of the products, the organised production facility and its senior team, were all factors in Vestey’s purchase.

He added that Cope, who founded Cottage Delight more than 40 years ago as a fudge-making operation, would still be involved for the first year as the businesses looked to learn from each other.

“It’s a well-run business. It’s not a turnaround,” he said. “Jason and Nigel have a good senior team there and their production is phenomenal.”

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