Father-of-three Mike Woods finalized the management buyout of the company he started in 2009 after two of his children were diagnosed with severe nut allergy.
Eleven years later, the Caerphilly-based Just Love Food Company supplies nut-free, vegan, gluten-free and milk-free cakes to the “big four” supermarkets; Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons. And the company – which has a turnover of £ 3.8million and employs 70 people – recently launched a caterpillar cake called Archie that is suitable for vegans.
Today, thanks to a loan of £ 750,000 and equity financing provided by the Development Bank of Wales, Mike, 56, was able to buy out existing shareholders and take back control of his business, with the Development Bank taking over. a 30% stake.
Managing Director Mike was joined by three new private investors with a combined 22% stake. George Adams, Chris Smith and Tom Carroll bring with them a wealth of experience – with Smith and Adams previously respectively Managing Director and President of Marshfield Bakery. And Carroll, the former COO of Unilever.
The board will be chaired by George Adams, who is currently president of Rave Coffee and Banner, a school uniform company. He said, “Our vision is to be the most trusted, innovative and inclusive celebration cake brand with a business that benefits our team, customers and the community. Mike’s original idea, born from personal experience coupled with the support of the Development Bank of Wales, means we have all the necessary ingredients for the next leg of the journey. This is the recipe for success.
After finding it frustrating not to be able to bring home cakes for his young family, in 2009 Mike used his skills and experience working in the food industry to make a difference – producing the first party cakes on them. supermarket shelves in the UK to make it clear that they were nut free in 2010.
Explaining the inspiration behind his business, Mike said, “When my daughter Danika was first diagnosed with a severe nut allergy at the age of four, times were different. There was a lot of ignorance and less awareness of allergies, and it was difficult. As a family, we have all been tested, and six months later, we found out that my son Rourke had had the same reaction.
“Over time, I started receiving letters from parents across the country asking us to produce gluten-free and dairy-free cakes for their children,” Mike said. “After seeing Danika being excluded from other children’s birthday parties because of her nut allergy, it was important for me to produce more cakes that included everyone, so we started adding to our line. “
The family business – including her daughter Danika who works as marketing director – is now preparing for a bright future.
Mike, who was introduced to Business Development Bank by Frank Holmes of Gambit Corporate Finance, said: “The combined support from Gambit and Business Development Bank has been instrumental as we focus on restructuring the business. We have an exciting future. The combination of equity and loans from the Development Bank of Wales means we have ongoing support and guidance, as well as working capital to deliver on our vision to be the most inclusive celebratory cake brand.
Jonathan Scott, Director of Gambit Corporate Finance, who advised on fundraising for the management buyout said: “It was a pleasure working with Mike and we are delighted to have helped him secure the financing of the transaction as part of a larger succession plan for exiting shareholders. Given Mike’s extraordinary passion and energy for the business, we look forward to seeing the business grow further into the rapidly growing “free” food market.
The £ 25million Wales Management Succession Fund is funded by the Welsh government and the Clwyd Pension Fund. Loans and equity investments between £ 500,000 and £ 3million are available for management teams looking to own and manage their business with terms of one to seven years.
Steve Galvin, Senior Director of Investments, and Ruby Harcombe, Director of Investments, made the deal for the Development Bank.
Ruby Harcombe said, “Just Love Food Company is a pioneering manufacturer of diet and lifestyle products with an excellent shelf presence in major supermarkets. As the first party cake developers to hit the market, they meet the demands of the modern consumer at a time when we are all increasingly concerned with nutrition and a healthy lifestyle.
“Mike and his team have some really exciting growth plans which we will facilitate with the mix of funding we have provided from our Wales Management Succession Fund. We look forward to working alongside the team and our co-investors as industry specialists.
Berry Smith has acted for Just Love Food Company and Blake Morgan for the Development Bank of Wales.