Spicing up its Business Plans
The Bart Ingredients Co. Ltd® adds flavour to its offer with a move into the wet ingredients market.
- Company turnover: £22 million
- Sector: Food
- Bart Ingredients supplies spices and herbs to the consumer market.
- Shortly after his arrival in 2011 CEO David Collard began driving the business towards expansion.
- The company chose Santander from five banks to finance the acquisition of wet ingredients supplier OTP and a three-year growth plan.
- Santander showed commitment by bringing key directors and the credit team to the first meeting and by committing to a tight timeframe. This personal rapport was essential to Santander winning the business.
- Santander provided a package that included an acquisition loan, asset finance, working capital and transactional finance to help Bart realise its growth aspirations.
- Significant growth is expected in the next 24 months, as well as the creation of more jobs.
- Santander is seen as a long-term collaborator in Bart’s future.
With its long history of maritime trade, Bristol is an appropriate home for Bart Ingredients, a company that sources spices and herbs from all over the world.
Throughout its 50-year history the company has innovated. It was first to market with organically produced spices and a pioneer in Fair Trade. More recently, it has been developing new packaging and blends.
A year after his arrival in 2011, CEO David Collard and his team began steering the company towards growth. An opportunity arose to acquire wet ingredients producer OTP – already a supplier to Bart – and Bart’s management team began conversations with a number of banks.
Time to grow
“We spoke to five banks in all, but it was Santander that really impressed us,” recalls David. “They not only brought the Relationship Director, but also the Regional Director and representatives from their credit team to the very first meeting. This meant we were able to talk to the credit team directly, so if they had questions, we were able to answer them then and there.”
As Santander Relationship Director Simon Wyatt explains, the bank was responsive to the company’s requests. “One of their key requirements was speed,” he says. “We began talking to them in November and initially they needed a commitment that the deal could be completed by December. We were able to give that, but as it turned out, the acquisition ultimately didn’t take place until March 2013.”
Santander was keen to work with Bart. “We were hugely impressed by the passion that David and his team showed for the business,” says Simon. “And we were also impressed by David’s track record of success in the food industry and by the pedigree of Langholm.”
Equally important, Simon appreciated the candour of the Bart managers. “When we asked questions, they answered them simply and clearly and David was prepared to talk about all aspects of the business, right down to a granular level.”
For his part, David stresses the importance of the relationship that has developed between managers at Bart and Santander. “We like to see our bankers as part of our own team,” says David. “As such, the rapport we have developed with Santander is very important – and that rapport was a key factor in our decision-making when we chose a bank.”
Santander agreed a package of finance, including a £2.3 million business loan to finance the acquisition, £500,000 in asset finance to fund improved production at OTP, a £1 million business loan to refinance a property deal and a £3.5 million invoice discounting facility.
In addition, Santander also provided a range of transactional services, including current and deposit accounts, Bacs, online banking and trade finance. Under the deal, Bart also has access to Santander’s trade portal, an innovative database of trade information designed to help businesses looking to trade overseas.
Plan for growth
“The package not only funded the acquisition,” says David, “But it also provided us with the financial headroom required to move forward on our three-year growth plan. With the funding in place, we will be able to grow the business in a sustainable way.”
The acquisition is clearly an important part of that plan. The wet spice market is growing at a rate of 15% per annum and Bart now has its own production facility, in addition to its existing dry spice operation in Bristol.
Over the next two years, the company expects not only to grow, but also to create jobs. “We see significant growth in the next 24 months and we do expect to increase employment across the two sites,” says David. Turnover last year was £16 million, which will rise this year as a direct result of the OTP deal.
David is looking forward to working closely with Santander in the future. “We talked to various banks and we feel we are in a long-term relationship with Santander.”
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Relationship Director Comments
When we asked questions, they answered them simply and clearly, and David was prepared to talk about all aspects of the business, right down to a granular level.