O'Leary backs Michael Carey's new €15m biscuit company
Topaz founder Neil O'Leary, the founder of the Lily O'Brien's chocolate company, and Millward Brown chairman Roger Jupp have emerged as backers of Michael Carey's new biscuit business.
Documents newly filed with the Companies Registration Office show O'Leary's company Tacreem has invested in the venture. Zatrix Holdings, an investment company of which Lily O'Brien's founder Mary Ann O'Brien is a director, has also put money in.
O'Leary is the chairman and chief executive of private equity company Ion Equity, which has invested in travel agency USIT.
Also backing the company is Laurence K Shields, a lawyer who gave his name to solicitors' firm LK Shields.
Suretank founder Patrick Joy is another backer, as is Stephen Twaddell, a former European president of Kellogg's, and Donard Gaynor, formerly senior vice president of strategy and corporate development of spirits company Beam.
Carey and his wife Alison Cowzer unveiled the new Drogheda-based biscuit project - East Coast Bakehouse - in June. It aims to make higher quality versions of well-known types of biscuit. Carey, Cowzer and the management team own 65pc of the business, their new backers own 35pc.
The €15m project will be located in a building the size of a football pitch in Drogheda.
The business is set to create 100 new jobs. Carey said the company has had over 2,000 direct applications from prospective employees. He told the Sunday Independent that the business is on schedule to be trading commercially in the first quarter of next year.
Carey and the rest of the management team that built up Jacobs Fruitfield into one of this country's most successful food companies are involved in the new venture.
They are marketing & innovation director Cowzer, commercial director Daragh Monahan, operations director James Yarr and chief financial officer Gerry Murphy. This group was the management team that successfully established the Jacob Fruitfield Group before it was sold in 2011 to Valeo Foods.
Cowzer previously told the Sunday Independent that the new factory would be far more modern and efficient than the Jacobs factory in Tallaght, which Jacobs Fruitfield management closed in 2008 citing out of-date machinery.
When the project was announced, Carey said he wanted to provide Irish biscuits to retailers at a competitive cost and export to UK retailers.
"Every week, over €3m worth of biscuits are purchased... by Irish consumers, almost all are currently imported," he said. "We aim to provide a new commercially competitive local Irish source."
Sunday Indo Business