After 100 years of family ownership, Thomas J Fudge’s has secured investment from mid-market private equity business Livingbridge as it aims to establish itself as the UK’s No. 1 premium biscuit brand.
Founded in 1916 by Thomas J Fudge, the great-great-uncle of the current owners, the business originally delivered freshly-baked bread to the West Country farming community by horse and cart. However, following a change in focus in the 1980s, the bakery diversified into selling luxury biscuits and crackers using local ingredients and has since gone from strength to strength.
Today, Thomas J Fudge’s biscuits, crackers and florentines are stocked by supermarkets including Waitrose, Tesco, Morrisons and Marks & Spencer as well as retailers such as Fortnum & Mason and Harvey Nichols.
Brothers Steve and Graham Fudge, alongside Graham’s wife Sue, currently run the business, employing 133 staff at a 32,000 square foot site in Stalbridge, Dorset. The bakery produced approximately 6.5 million biscuits per week during 2015.
Livingbridge are backing Paul Vita and Vickie Best, currently Commercial and Operations Director respectively. Paul and Vickie will be taking an ownership role, and run the business as joint managing directors, providing the leadership and continuity the business needs to further develop.
RSM’s transaction services team provided financial and tax due diligence.
Steve Fudge of Thomas J Fudge’s said: “We have had a remarkable 100 years developing our family business and are thrilled to be passing it onto Livingbridge as the guardians of our heritage with exciting plans for growth. With younger generations of the Fudge’s family focussing on their own careers, we have been looking for some time to find the right buyer for us, our colleagues and our customers and, in Livingbridge, we have found just that.”
Benoit Broch, Livingbridge Director, said: “Thomas J Fudge’s has been on our radar for some time following their success in carving out a name for themselves in the premium biscuits market. Our investment will enable this already strong brand to continue its growth in the UK and we fully support their vision to be the UK’s No.1 premium biscuit brand. We look forward to working with Paul Vita and Vickie Best and are very excited about helping Thomas J Fudge’s achieve its growth ambitions.”