Food group nets fish business in £80m deal

The Saucy Fish Co, part of Seachill

Hilton Food Group has bought chilled fish business Icelandic Group UK for £80.8m.

The Grimsby-based business, which trades as Seachill, had been put up for sale in the spring by its Reykjavik-based owners, Icelandic.

Seachill generates annual sales of around £270m, with around 80% coming from supplying Tesco. It focuses on the three largest fish species in the UK and its The Saucy Fish Co. brand, is the largest chilled wet fish brand in the UK.

Simon Smith will continue to lead the Seachill business as a division within Hilton going forward.

Hilton has been focused on the processing of meat, principally beef and lamb as well as pork outside the UK, and believes a fish business will be attractive to the companies it supplies.

Robert Watson, chief executive of Hilton, said: “The processing and supplying of fish and seafood into the UK is an attractive and growing market and one where we see considerable opportunities to build Hilton’s business.

“Our initial discussions with key customers support this view and we look forward to broadening our offering to both our UK and overseas customers alongside our existing meat business.”

Hilton will raise £55.9m from a share placing, that is fully underwritten, and has also secured a new £34m banking facility.

KPMG’s deal advisory practice advised Hilton on the acquisition.

“This deal represents diversification into an additional protein category for Hilton in the UK. I expect to see continued strategic interest in fish as the UK consumer trend towards healthier diet continues,” said Chris Stott, partner at KPMG.

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