A Crisp Acquisition

For a food product with a very English heritage, Tyrrells Crisps are thriving in overseas markets. The company is a leading brand in its category in a number of European markets and is enjoying significant sales in countries much further afield such as Australia.

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The company's growth in Australia enjoyed a boost when it acquired a local company Yarra Valley Snack Foods in August 2015.

"We started to export to Australia, and our product has gone down very well there, but making crisps in Herefordshire for the Australian market was just not an economic way of proceeding," says David Milner, President International of Aroma Snack Brands and former CEO of Tyrrells.

Milner went to Australia to either find some land to build a factory on, find a co-manufacturer or, ideally, a company that Tyrrells could buy.

"Fortunately I found Yarra Valley Snack Foods which was a very good fit for us. They have a very strong portfolio of premium, mostly organic, brands, they're fast-growing, and they had a nice big factory where we could put our specialist equipment," says Milner.

The plan going forward is to continue to grow the Yarra Valley business and to make crisps in Australia, using that as the manufacturing site to service the wider Asia-Pacific region.

The acquisition appears to have been a sound one and for Milner there were some key criteria that drove the decision-making process.

"Acquiring a business can be a challenging process, however we've been clearly focused on becoming a global player in the premium snacks category – hand cooked potato and veg crisps in particular. Our acquisitions in Australia and Germany allow us to expand in territories where not only snacks consumption per capita is high, but the Tyrrells brand has already gained a strong foothold," he says.

"It is also very important, if you can, to make the owner of the acquired business part of the forward plan. So for us the founder of Yarra Valley became an investor in Tyrrells and was made President of Asia Pacific"

Tyrrells acquisition in Australia has given it a real foothold in the wider region and moving forward the strategy is to make acquisitions where the company is already enjoying export success. In 2016, Tyrrells made its second overseas acquisition of Germany's Aroma Snacks.

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