Business Irish

Sunday 19 November 2017

Spud farmer turned crisps king steps down at Tayto firm

Ray Coyle built Largo Foods into a major food sector business
Ray Coyle built Largo Foods into a major food sector business
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Businessman Ray Coyle has resigned as chairman and director of the company behind Tayto, ending his 35-year relationship with the snack maker.

His departure comes following the complete takeover of the business by German food group Intersnack in 2015.

Mr Coyle has resigned as a director of both Tayto Crisps and its parent company, Largo Foods, which he founded in 1982.

Largo also produces the Hunky Dory and King crisp brands. It bought the Tayto brand in 2006 from C&C.

Mr Coyle sold an initial 15pc stake in Largo Foods to Intersnack in 2007 for €15m.

He later sold a further stake in the business to the German firm and in 2015 sold his final 25pc holding in Largo to Intersnack.

Mr Coyle had an option to buy back an 11pc stake in Largo in 2015, but did not exercise it.

When he sold his remaining stake, he agreed to remain as a director and chairman of the company until at least this year.

New company filings show that he resigned as a director at the end of December. Mr Coyle was uncontactable yesterday.

Intersnack owns a raft of other brands including Hula-Hoops, KP and Skips.

But Mr Coyle's other connections to Tayto continue.

Mr Coyle opened Tayto Park in 2010,putting millions of euro of his own money into the venture, which is situated beside the Tayto factory in Ashbourne, Co Meath.

The park has grown to become one of the country's biggest visitor attractions. It was ranked number six among paid attractions in 2015 by Fáilte Ireland, attracting 750,000 visitors that year.

It is home to Europe's largest wooden rollercoaster, the Cu Chulainn, which opened in 2015. This year, the park is opening a major water ride, dubbed the Viking Voyage. It will also include a Viking village.

Mr Coyle, who started his working life as a potato farmer, famously raffled off 280 acres of land in 1982 in order to pay back money owed to banks as his business struggled.

He has a number of other investments outside Tayto Park. He's an investor in Cork-based firm Everseen, whose technology helps to prevent fraud, theft and irregularities at the point of sale in stores.

Irish Independent

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