Clearwater Corporate Finance advises Challenger Foods on second disposal in three months


Sunderland-based Challenger Foods has been sold to Joseph Mitchell (Letham) Limited based near Dundee in Scotland for an undisclosed sum.

Challenger was formally part of Voyager Foods that sold its sauces division to Kerry Ingredients (Europe) in September 2001 along with the Voyager name.

Challenger produces a wide range of quality cooked chicken products, both chilled and frozen. It has an outstanding reputation and its products are sold to UK food manufacturers, caterers and retailers for use in sandwiches, salads, ready-made meals and pizzas. The company is responsible for many of the innovative sandwich fillings sold by the major retailers. Challenger uses only the best fresh ingredients in its recipes.

Challenger, which operates from a 40,000 sq ft plant in Leechmere, Sunderland, has won numerous awards and accreditations including the 2001 Company of the year for the North East of England as part of Voyager Foods.

Alan Hawley, the outgoing managing director of Challenger Foods said: “The sale of Challenger enables Mitchell’s to begin to implement their strategy of building a fully integrated poultry company. Challenger is a successful company with a reputation for product innovation and has a very skilled workforce. I have doubt that Mitchell’s will enhance shareholder value by this acquisition.”

Manchester-based Clearwater Corporate Finance (Clearwater) advised the shareholders of Challenger Foods on what is their second disposal in three months. Clearwater also advised Alan Hawley on the successful Management Buy-In of Voyager in 1996 when 3i, ECI Ventures and the Bank of Scotland invested in the deal.

Philip Nuttall, north west head of Clearwater who was assisted by assistant director Simon Lord and executive Brian Millrine commented: “Alan Hawley is one of a very small number of top quality MBI candidates who have successfully acquired and grown a business. This sale, and the previous sale of the sauces division to Kerry last year, fulfils the objectives we agreed with Alan in 1995.”