Business Irish

Thursday 19 September 2019

Irishman turns £1 deal into £7.5m UK firm


Ross McMahon of Kendal Nutricare
Ross McMahon of Kendal Nutricare

Simon Rowe

An Irish entrepreneur who bought a former Heinz baby food factory in Cumbria for just £1 has dramatically turned the business around, posting revenues of £7.5m and rescuing 90 jobs.

Monaghan-born entrepreneur Ross McMahon acquired the 11-acre site from Heinz when it disposed of non-core assets ahead of its merger with Kraft in 2015.

The Clones businessman has since created an extra 30 positions by developing a new range of baby nutrition brands at his firm, Kendal Nutricare.

The UCD-educated food scientist is targeting China's $2.4bn baby milk formula business and expanded into 6,000 retail outlets there in February.

Company accounts for McMahon's firm Kendamil reveal that he purchased the factory for a nominal £1 from the global food giant Heinz. Land, plant and equipment at the site are currently valued at around £10m.

Industry sources estimate it would have cost Heinz £8m to close the Kendal factory but instead McMahon took over all liabilities, including the transfer of staff under employment regulations.

Business is booming at Kendal Nutricare, where it is on target to hit a turnover of £12m (€14m) this year and is aiming for a turnover of £31m (€35m) by 2021.

Although the company recorded a balance-sheet loss of £700,000, this was after significant investment by McMahon in new machinery, new IT management systems and staff retraining.

Kendal Nutricare has retained contracts to make infant cereals for Heinz, and sells to north Africa and Southeast Asia.

The company also has contracts with Irish dairy giants including Glanbia, Carberry Foods and Kerry Foods worth about €2m every year.

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