Sugar Puffs owner to join AIM as it looks to raise funds

FOOD manufacturer Big Bear Group has confirmed plans to join the Alternative Investment Market (Aim) in a move which could value it at more than £75m.

The owner of the Sugar Puffs and Fox’s Glacier Mints says it will use the cash raised to cut debt, develop its existing brands further and pay the costs of listing on Aim. It could also snap up more underperforming food brands that still carry a degree of brand recognition in the future.

John Jackson, joint chairman of Big Bear, said: “We believe that the flotation will increase our flexibility to access capital markets, raise our profile and enable us to acquire further interesting but forgotten and under-utilised brands as attractive opportunities are identified.”

Fellow founders Mario Giannotta and Paul Wilkinson are chief executive and joint chairman respectively.

Big Bear was founded in 2003 following a management buy-in of Northern Foods’ confectionary business.

In 2006, it bought the business assets of Honey Monster Foods from PepsiCo to bring Sugar Puffs and Harvest Cheweee cereal bars into its growing brand portfolio.

The group saw sales of £53.3m and operating profits before exceptional items of more than £8m in the 12 months to 31 August.

Margaret Mountford, who advised Sir Alan Sugar on the Apprentice, and former Unilever executive John Rothenberg will join the board as non-executive directors as part of a shake-up at the company.