Private equity case study

Transforming a confectionery business for trade sale and tripling EBITDA

Private equity, Consumer industry, transformational change


Private equity owned confectionery business with £150m annual revenues and 1,200 employees across 6 sites.  Wide range of confectionery and snacks.

Relatively modern equipment but inefficient.  Sales limited by production capacities, with significant potential to increase throughput efficiencies.

The popcorn business had been declared non-core, with a carve-out and trade sale the preferred option.


A two-stage approach was used, culminating in a trade sale of the operating unit which had, by the end of the programme, tripled EBITDA:

  • Full Potential Analysis: a 360˚  review was conducted, assessing key processes and performance levels; once this assessment had taken place, targets were set and the performance improvement programme was designed, bearing in mind the intention to carve out the business unit once the programme had delivered.
  • Transformation Programme: creation of a Programme Management Office with a task-force made up of the management team who would, in future, run the carved-out business unit.
    • Goal deployment was used to reinforce project goals which included growth; improved plant utilisation; increased labour productivity; improved yields; and reduced overheads.
    • Total Productive Maintenance was at the centre of a Lean set of tools to increase utilisation and make additional capacity available without the need for capex: overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), single minute exchange of die (SMED), preventative and autonomous maintenance, and training  of front line managers and operatives were key constituents of this workstream.
    • Management Operating Systems & Training changed the culture from one of fire-fighting to a proactive approach based on metrics and continuous improvement.
    • Labour Standards were revised to support a step-change in productivity and ensure that capacity could be managed in tandem with increasing demand without having a negative impact on performance.
    • Right-sizing of Management & Support Areas ensured that indirect areas were lean and performance-focused whilst also being sufficiently agile to cope with significant increases in volume.
    • Quality & Yields received particular focus in order to balance the improvement effort.


EBITDA grown
Uplift in plant utilisation
Machine speeds optimised
Labour productivity increased
Waste reduced
White collar G&A costs reduced

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