Inverleith LLP, the Edinburgh-based private equity house, has swallowed Montezuma’s, the British artisan chocolate brand that boasts an £8 million turnover.
Inverleith said its investment would allow the company to expand the distribution of its products in the UK and overseas, with the Scots firm taking a majority stake in the business as a result of the deal.
Montezuma’s was founded by Helen and Simon Pattinson in 2000. The Chichester-based firm now employs about 150 people making chocolate bars, truffles and gift products. It also runs a subscription “chocolate club” and has retail stores in London and the south-east of England.
The chocolate maker’s new majority owner has pledged to continue with the firm’s focus on innovation, expanding a range of products that already includes a vegan, dairy-free, “Like No Udder” chocolate bar as well as 100 per cent cocoa “Absolute Black” products.
Following the majority sale to Inverleith, and following “a period of transition”, husband and wife team Simon and Helen will step back from the day-to-day running of the business, while retaining roles as “ambassadors” and directors for the company.
Inverleith managing partner, Paul Skipworth, said: “Montezuma’s is a fantastic addition to Inverleith’s expanding portfolio of consumer investments. Montezuma’s long-standing ethical position and track record of innovation position the brand perfectly to capture strong consumer desire for authentic, premium, artisanal brands.
“Montezuma’s is a quality British chocolate manufacturer with exciting product innovation in areas such as dark, 100 per cent cocoa, flavoured and vegan and non-dairy chocolates. It is already a leading player in the high growth segments of the chocolate market with enormous opportunity for the brand both in the UK and internationally.”
Co-founder Helen Pattinson said: “We are delighted to have secured Inverleith LLP as the majority investor into Montezuma’s. After 18 years at the helm, we knew this was the right time to seek additional investment and the right partner.
“It was extremely important for us to find and work with an investor partner who would recognise and respect the company and brand we have created and love, our values, our innovative approach and the quality of our products.”
Simon Pattinson added: “We feel Inverleith fully understands the brand’s future, shares our continued passion for what we have developed and will ensure that we capture new opportunities for the brand both at home and overseas.”
Inverleith recently acquired Planet Organic, the London-based health food chain, in a deal thought to be worth around £15m.
The investment firm said that it would look to double Planet Organic’s existing seven-store London footprint over the next five years, having acquired a majority stake in the business.
In August, Inverleith added to its consumer goods portfolio by taking a majority stake in a food and drink brand making products from hemp seed. It gained majority ownership of Braham and Murray Good Hemp, founded by Henry Braham and Glynis Murray.