Business Irish

Monday 5 December 2016

Coyle sells out of Largo Foods

Tayto and Hunky Dory crisp group changes hands, writes Sarah McCabe

Published 25/10/2015 | 02:30

Ray Coyle founded Largo Foods which manufactures Tayto crisps and other snack foods in 1983
Ray Coyle founded Largo Foods which manufactures Tayto crisps and other snack foods in 1983

Largo founder Ray Coyle, one of Ireland's most successful businessmen, has this week agreed to sell his final shareholding in the company he established 33 years ago.

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Coyle will sell his 25pc stake in Largo to Germany's Intersnack, which has the right to buy his shares as part of the deal which gave it majority control of the group nine years ago. The amount to be paid for his shares has not been disclosed.

He had the option to buy back an 11pc stake in the firm earlier this year but that option expired.

Intersnack now has full control of the company. Largo owns the King, Hunky Dory and Perri brands as well as Ireland's most famous crisp - Tayto. Together the four brands account for just under half of the Irish crisps and popcorn market.

Coyle will stay on as chairman and a director at Largo until at least 2017.

Largo re-registered itself as an unlimited company in 2012, meaning it is not obliged to publish annual accounts.

Its most recent accounts revealed an operating profit of €10m coming from total revenues of €82m. Largo employs 550 staff mainly at its Meath base.

Coyle is re-entering the food business with three new investments in food start-ups.

The Meath-based entrepreneur has invested just over €500,000 in Natasha's Living Foods, the healthy snack company founded by raw food fan Natasha Czopor, for a near 55pc.

"Her products are exactly what today's health-conscious consumers are looking for" said Coyle.

He has also invested in kombucha brewer SynerChi, and Irish Cone and Wafer, Ireland's largest manufacturer of ice cream cones.

The food businesses will move some of their manufacturing to a factory in Donegal previously closed down by Largo. Coyle is also moving into residential construction, financing the building of about 45 affordable homes in Maynooth.

His main business interest, Ashbourne's Tayto Park, has just hit 730,000 visitors for 2015 - up from 450,000 visitors in 2013.

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