FMCG giant Unilever has bought UK healthy snacks firm Graze for a reported value of £150m.
Founded in 2008, Graze had raised just £2m from London investors Octopus Ventures and Draper Esprit before being acquired by US buyout group Carlyle in 2012.
The company was originally a subscription-only service selling boxes of nuts, seeds and similar healthy products.
As well as selling directly, Graze products are also distributed through bricks-and-mortar retailers in the UK and the US.
The bidding war for Graze had garnered interest from the likes of Pepsi and Kellogg’s before Unilever successfully sealed the deal. Carlyle was initially hoping to attract around £300m for the tech firm, according to reports.
Initially starting out life as a customisable snack box delivery service, Graze’s products are now sold in major supermarkets such as Boots, Sainsbury’s and Costco.
Graze joins the ranks of a range of popular brands owned by Unilever, including Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream and Marmite.
The move comes after Unilever boss Alan Jope said in the company’s earnings report last week that it would be focusing on accelerating growth in the business, after disappointing investors by missing key estimates.
Graze chief executive Anthony Fletcher called the deal “a transformational moment in Graze’s growth journey”.
Nitin Paranjpe, president of Unilever’s food and refreshment business, said the retail conglomerate would utilise Graze’s technology for other parts of its e-commerce portfolio.
Nitin Paranjpe, the president of Unilever’s food and refreshment arm, said: “Graze is the leading healthy snacking brand in the UK. A truly multichannel brand, Graze offers personalisation, convenience and great nutrition, brilliantly meeting the needs of millennial consumers.
“Accelerating our presence in healthy foods and out of home this is an excellent strategic fit for the Unilever food and refreshment business and a wonderful addition to our stable of purpose-driven brands.”
Graze CEO Anthony Fletcher, who joined the business as head of marketing sales and innovation in 2009 from drinks maker Innocent, said the sale was a “transformational moment” in the company’s “growth journey”.
He added: “Graze has an incredibly exciting future ahead as part of Unilever and we look forward to working closely with the team to keep on inventing new healthy snacks, as well as continuing to work to understand the role technology can play in improving the food industry.”
The financial terms of the deal announced today were undisclosed, although Sky News said Unilever had paid GBP150m for Graze.