Burton’s review may lead to sale of biscuit company

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THE company behind iconic British treats such as Jammie Dodgers and Wagon Wheels could be put up for sale later this year following the launch of a strategic review of the business by its owners.

Burton’s Biscuits, which employs some 800 people at its Sighthill plant in Edinburgh, is thought likely to fetch about £300 million if it goes on the market. It is the UK’s second-biggest biscuit manufacturer after United Biscuits, with revenues of £342m in 2011.

Owners Apollo Global Management and Canadian bank CIBC have appointed Credit Suisse to review the options for Burton’s, which had earnings of £27.8m in its last reported financial year.

The likeliest outcome is a sale, though a decision is thought to be several months away. In addition to its own brands, Burton’s makes biscuits for Cadbury, including the Caramel, Crunchie and Turkish Delight ranges. Taken together, Cadbury is Burton’s biggest-selling product category.

The Edinburgh plant – one of Burton’s three across the UK – got a £5m upgrade in 2011 with the installation of equipment for wrapping biscuits in chocolate. Burton’s chief executive Ben Clarke said at the time that the aim was to bring more Cadbury production to the site.

Headquartered at St Albans in Hertfordshire, Burton’s employs about 2,200 people across the UK. Its other manufacturing facilities are located in Blackpool and Llantarnam in South Wales.

Apollo and CIBC took control of the business in 2009 when its previous owner, Duke Street Capital, was forced to hand over the company to the lenders who financed Duke Street’s £220m buy-out of Burton’s in March 2007. The debt-for-equity swap left Duke Street nursing big losses .