M&A team of OC&C advises on sale of Aston Manor and Wagamama

13 November 2018 Consultancy.uk

Two major transactions have seen the Japanese dining chain Wagamama and UK cider maker Aston Manor change hands. Both deals saw strategy consulting firm OC&C advise on the sell-side.

As the casual dining sector endures a troubled 2018, Wagamama, a British restaurant chain serving Japanese cuisine, has been sold to Frankie and Benny owner The Restaurant Group. The first Wagamama was opened in 1992 in Bloomsbury, London, and has since spread to further locations in Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Denmark, Gibraltar, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Malta, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Oman, Qatar, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, the UAE, and the United States.

According to UK newspaper The Times, The Restaurant Group beat private equity firms for a sale that was launched in June by Goldman Sachs on behalf of Duke Street, Wagamama’s private equity backer. Now, the “transformative” £559 million takeover of the Wagamama chain will see the UK-headquartered corporation assume Wagamama’s net debt of £202 million.

Commenting on the transaction, Andy McCue, Chief Executive of The Restaurant Group, described the Wagamama deal – which is expected complete by mid-December – as "an exciting and transformative opportunity.”

Wagamama’s former owners Duke Street and Hutton Collins were advised on the transaction by OC&C Strategy Consultants, supporting the private equity investors through vendor due diligence, as well as providing strategic support as the business considered alternative International growth options. The team that led the engagement were David Sinclair (Partner), Tim Cook (Partner) and Katherine Fiander (Associate Partner).

M&A team of OC&C advises on sale of Aston Manor and Wagamama

Elsewhere, cider maker Aston Manor has become the latest UK company to be purchased by overseas investors, following a drop in the value of the pound, which has delivered extra value to purchasers in the US and EU in particular. The British firm was established in 1983, by late Aston Villa Chairman Sir Doug Ellis, and has since become the largest independently owned cider maker in the UK. The group now exports a range of ciders to more than 20 countries including the US, Russia and a number of countries in Africa.

The purchaser, Caen, France-based Agrial, is a farming and food co-operative which has regularly expanded since its creation to become one of the leading French farming co-operatives. Today it is present across Europe, Africa and the United States, while its beverage division operates in a number of sectors, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic and is France’s largest producer of cider.

Aston Manor’s CEO, James Ellis, said of the move, “This deal will provide both the company and our staff with continuing opportunities to grow. Agrial is the perfect fit and we are delighted to build Aston Manor’s future with them.”

OC&C Strategy Consultants supported Aston Manor on its sale to Agrial Group. OC&C Partners David de Matteis and Will Hayllar provided Aston Manor with vendor due diligence, leveraging their expertise in the alcoholic drinks sector. According to a statement from OC&C, the firm boasts extensive experience in the drinks sector stretching across global brand and private label leaders to emerging and disruptive brands.

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