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Tayto ends Golden Wonder turmoil

By Anita Awbi , 06-Feb-2006

Northern Irish snack manufacturer Tayto has offered administrators an attractive bid for the remaining Golden Wonder plant, but will absorb the business into its own operations rather than take the old headquarters.

Family-owned Tayto offered the highest price out of three competitors, following month-long negotiations that saw the administrators whittle away a shortlist of 60 interested parties.

It is believed they beat Irish rival Largo Foods and German manufacturer Unisnack, to secure the deal rumoured to be worth around £15 million.

Tayto already snapped up Golden Wonder's Pringles Mini brand in January, and is continuing to produce the snacks for Proctor and Gamble at the Corby plant.

Administrators said Tayto will also take over the Scunthorpe plant, currently producing Nik-Naks, Wheat Crunchies, Golden Lights and own-label products. The company is already on site preparing to take the reins ahead of completion of the deal expected in around two to three weeks.

Meanwhile, head office operations at Market Harborough look likely to close, and may result in redundancies across the board.

"While all three parties showed interest in acquiring the entire Scunthorpe operation as a going concern, including all own label and branded operations, the preferred bidder was chosen as its offer is in the best interests of the company's creditors," administrators said in a statement.

"Unfortunately none of the three serious bidders have expressed any major interest in taking over the head office."

Golden Wonder, which has changed hands numerous times over the years, cites the fiercely competitive UK crisps market as a major catalyst in its downfall.

In recent times rivals Bensons Crisps and Smiths Crisps have succumbed to industry pressure, with the former going into liquidation in 2001 and the latter being bought out by market leader Walkers, a subsidiary of PepsiCo.

Walkers, which now has more than 50 per cent market share, gradually ate away at Golden Wonder's leading margins to take the top spot in the mid-1990s with famous brands Doritos, Sensations and Quavers.

Golden Wonder found it hard to compete with the innovative company that was able to quickly capitalise on new consumer trends such as premium snacks and healthy eating alternatives.

The company suffered losses of £10.8m on sales of £87.8m in 2004, and it is expected to reveal more losses for last year. The figures have not been released yet, but the administrators confirm they are "significant".

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