Lifting the cup


UK Automatic Vending Supplies Ltd (UKAVS), a key UK supplier of ingredients for the vending trade has been acquired by Danish company Eurogran for an undisclosed sum.

UKAVS operates from the Sherdley Industrial Estate in St Helens and employs 38 staff. With a turnover of £5 million the company is a major player within the UK vending ingredient market.

The Danish-based Eurogran will utilise the acquisition to secure a firm foothold in the UK, allowing for expansion not only in the UK, but also into the Irish market. Eurogran operates across Europe, providing premier vending ingredients to over 20 countries. The privately owned business has turnover of over £15 million and employs 80 staff. Eurogran was acquired by the current group managing director, Michael Spangsberg, in 2004.

UKAVS has a number of strong relationships within the independent vending operator market and its reputation for quality and service has led to the company supplying a large number of these within the overall UK market. UKAVS sells under the ‘Classic’ and ‘Inpax’ brands as well as extensive own label business.

A key development for UKAVS came in 2005 with the company securing preferred supplier status with the NHS for in-cup beverages. The contract enables UKAVS to supply six regional distribution centres of the NHS.

The products used in the UKAVS blending and packing operation are sourced from many parts of the world including Columbia, Holland and France.

Managing director, Fekade Zewde will remain with the business and will be responsible for Eurogran’s operations across the UK. Zewde joined the business in 1992 after working in Ethiopia for over 20 years. He commented: “We had originally been speaking to Eurogran in order to add certain of their high quality products to our range. When we met Michael and his team, it became apparent that there was a good strategic fit and coming together seemed the logical thing to do.”

Advising UKAVS were the Manchester office of Clearwater Corporate Finance who advised the shareholders on the sale of the business to Eurogran. Legal advisers to the shareholders were Robert Turnbull and Jo Hanlon from Cobbetts. Stephen Chadwick and Roger Pointon of Wacks Caller advised Eurogran.

Jon Mercer of Clearwater Corporate Finance added: “We have been working with the shareholders of UKAVS for some time with a view to them eventually exiting the business, and Eurogran is an excellent strategic fit. With Fekade staying on as managing director we expect to see UKAVS grow strongly over the next few years as part of Eurogran.”

Jo Hanlon, associate at Cobbetts said: “We were delighted to act for the shareholders on this transaction. UKAVS and Eurogran’s product lines and specialisms are an ideal match and are sure to be a strong player in the market.”

The United Kingdom vending (automatic retailing) market supplies more than 400,000 refreshment vending machines. Each day over eight million cups of coffee and two million cups of tea are vended.

As well as tea and coffee these machines vend other beverages such as fruit drinks and soups (as well as food snacks).

This is Clearwater’s second deal in the beverage sector in recent months. Clearwater advised Crawley-based Kafevend on its management buy-out from IKON Office Solutions, which was backed by Livingbridge.