Caerphilly’s company launches UK’s first vegan caterpillar cake

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FATHER OF THREE Mike Woods finalized the management buyout of the company he started in 2009 after two of his children were diagnosed with severe nut allergy.

Eleven years later, the Caerphilly-based Just Love Food Company supplies nut-free, vegan, gluten-free and milk-free cakes to the “big four” supermarkets; Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons. And the company – which has a turnover of £ 3.8million and employs 70 people – recently launched a caterpillar cake called Archie that is suitable for vegans.

Today, thanks to a loan of £ 750,000 and equity financing provided by the Development Bank for Wales, Mr Woods, 56, was able to buy out existing shareholders and take back control of his business , the Development Bank taking a stake of 30% stake.

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Explaining the inspiration behind his business, Mr Woods said: “When my daughter Danika was first diagnosed with a severe nut allergy at the age of four, times were different. There was a lot of ignorance and less awareness about allergies, and it was difficult. As a family we have all been tested, and six months later we found out that my son Rourke had the same reaction.

“Over time, I began to receive letters from parents across the country asking us to produce gluten-free and dairy-free cakes for their children.

“After seeing Danika being left out of other children’s birthday parties because of her nut allergy, it was important for me to produce more cakes that included everyone, so we started adding to our line. ”

The family business, of which her daughter Danika Woods, who works as a marketing manager, is now preparing for a bright future.

Managing Director Mr Woods was joined by three new private investors with a combined 22% stake. George Adams, Chris Smith and Tom Carroll bring with them a wealth of experience – with Mr. Smith and Mr. Adams, respectively Managing Director and President of Marshfield Bakery, and Carroll, former COO at Unilever.

The board will be chaired by George Adams, who is currently president of Rave Coffee and Banner, a school uniform company. He said, “Our vision is to be the most trusted, innovative and inclusive celebration cake brand with a business that benefits our team, customers and the community. Mike’s original vision, born from his personal experience coupled with the support of the Development Bank of Wales, means that we have all the ingredients for the next leg of the journey. This is the recipe for success.

After finding it frustrating that he couldn’t bring home cakes for his young family, in 2009 Mr. Woods used his skills and experience working in the food industry to make a difference – by producing the first cakes of party on supermarket shelves in the UK to make it clear they were nut-free in 2010.

Mr. Woods, who was introduced to Business Development Bank by Frank Holmes of Gambit Corporate Finance, said: “The combined support from Gambit and Business Development Bank has been instrumental as we focus on restructuring the business. business. We have an exciting future. The combination of equity and loans from the Development Bank of Wales means we have ongoing support and guidance, as well as working capital to deliver on our vision to be the most inclusive celebratory cake brand.

Jonathan Scott, Director of Gambit Corporate Finance, who advised on the fundraising for the executive buyout, said: “It was a pleasure working with Mike and we are delighted to have helped him secure funding for the fundraiser. operation as part of a larger succession plan. for outgoing shareholders. Given Mike’s extraordinary passion and energy for the business, we look forward to seeing the business grow further into the rapidly growing “free” food market.

The £ 25million Wales Management Succession Fund is funded by the Welsh Government and the Clwyd Pension Fund. Loans and equity investments between £ 500,000 and £ 3million are available for management teams looking to own and manage their business with terms of one to seven years.

Senior Investments Executive Steve Galvin and Senior Investments Executive Ruby Harcombe completed the deal for the Development Bank.

Ruby Harcombe said, “Just Love Food Company is a pioneering manufacturer of diet and lifestyle products with an excellent shelf presence in major supermarkets. As the first party cake designers to hit the market, they meet the demands of the modern consumer at a time when we are all increasingly concerned with nutrition and a healthy lifestyle.

“Mike and the team have some really exciting growth plans which we will facilitate with the mix of funding we have provided from our Wales Management Succession Fund. We look forward to working alongside the team and our co-investors as industry specialists.

Berry Smith has acted for Just Love Food Company and Blake Morgan for the Development Bank of Wales.


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