By Prudence Minayo
Britania biscuits grew to become one of the biggest brands in Kenya. The biscuits, manufactured by Jambo Biscuits, started as a small bakery to an enterprise worth millions, if not billions of Kenyan Shillings. Founded in 1987 by Nitin Dawda, the company products are also exported to Tanzania, Zambia and Ethiopia. They also fed high energy biscuits to the Kenya Defense Forces and special food for relief agencies including Unicef, World Food Program and non governmental organizations. While they started off with selling biscuits, the company later diversified to confectionary and snacks.
Here are the new owners of Britania biscuits after the company was put up for sale over Sh1.3 billion debt.
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Buyout by Catalyst
In 2017, Jambo biscuits was bought by a private equity firm called Catalyst Principal Partners for an undisclosed amount. Catalyst is a firm that invests in high growth mid-size companies across East Africa. Their portfolio cuts across different markets including finance, healthcare, manufacturing, telecommunications and retail. Their decision to buy the firm was informed by Britania’s strength in the business category.
“Our investment was anchored on the innovation platform consistently achieved by the brand within the biscuits category, as well as positive market fundamentals in a sector that is growing faster than the Gross Domestic Product propelled by younger demographics and growing disposable income,” said Catalyst CEO Paul Kavuma. Following the acquisition, the company was renamed Britania Foods Limited.
Buyout by Indian firm
On 5th October 2022, it was reported that Kenafric Industries had partnered with Indian food giant, Britannia Industries, to buy Britania biscuits in a deal rumoured to be worth Sh1 billion. The troubled biscuit firm had seized operations in 2020 over large amount of debt and had been placed under administration in 2021. The auctioned firm had defaulted on loans of more than Sh1.3 billion given by DTB bank and other institutions.
Britannia Industries is a leading India biscuit manufacturer that is not at all affiliated with Kenya’s Britania Food Limited. India’s Britannia first bought 51% stake in Kenafric, the joint venture. It used this joint venture to bid for Britania which will now be sold under Kenafric.
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“Most of us have grown up since we were children knowing the Britannia brand. So we are also carrying the Britannia name with us, and that is why we bought the brand. You will see the Britannia brand in the market but manufactured by Kenafric Biscuits Ltd,” the Business Daily quoted Lorna Solopian, the head of Legal and Compliance at Kenafric Group.
On the other hand, Catalyst said it had bought the company at an overpriced rate after its books had been falsified. They said that they had found out that the previous owners, Jambo Biscuits, misrepresented the financial health of the business. This had hurt the investment fund which is said to have bought Jambo at more than a billion Kenyan Shillings.