Private Equity

Private Equity owned food business that sought a truly outstanding new CEO.

"The team at Drayton offer a unique combination of deep Private Equity experience along with an outstanding understanding of, and network within, the Consumer sector"

The business is a market-leading brand and own-label food business backed by a well respected, mid-market Private Equity house. It operates in two highly 'on-trend' product categories, both of which are growing strongly. However, as the largest player, it had seen its share eroded by hungry, new market entrants.

The Brief

This business had solid manufacturing capability, an excellent global supply chain and strong category and consumer understanding. It had enjoyed excellent growth over a 10-15 year period, dominated its two key categories, and had a format proposition including both brand and private label. Private label performance had become inconsistent, partly driven by persistent quality issues and an unconvincing innovation agenda. Its branded propostion was no longer sufficiently compelling and new, more dynamic, market entrants had stolen share.

The private equity owner determined that a new leader was required for the business. Following a recommendation, Drayton were asked to pitch for the project against two other search firms, both of which were traditional, international names. Drayton's Consumer-sector specialism, aligned to deep networks in the Food industy, ultimately proved persuasive.

The P/E Partners sought an outstanding new leader. The individual needed to offer strong branded food experience combined with a close understanding of private label. Past exposure in businesses with a complex, global supply chain was seen as an advantage. Ultimately, the individual needed the energy, focus and resilience to deliver a rapid step-change in performance.

Drayton Partners Approach

The Drayton team invested significant time in the business, meeting key stakeholders, as well as the P/E owner, to understand the vision and ambition for their investment. This quickly progressed to a comprehensive market map of relevant candidates. The investors were kept informed through a formal weekly update.

Ultimately, the shortlist consisted of five highly relevant candidates for the Investors to meet. This resulted in two individuals progressing to a final assessment stage, which included an in-depth site tour and an opportunity to meet the other members of the Board.


Having been in place for a number of months, the CEO has now commenced a huge change programme that will result in a significantly more efficient, more focused business. This increased efficiency allows the business to start rebuilding EBIT again from a solid, sustainable foundation.