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Britania Foods: Biscuit Kings Crumble Under Weight of Debts

In recent years, Britania has racked up debts and been riddled with reports of mismanagement

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Peter Kahi of PKF Consulting Limited has been appointed as the Administrator of Britania Foods Limited – one of Kenya’s oldest confectionary manufacturers known for its range of iconic biscuit brands.

A notice made public on Tuesday, August 17 notified interest parties: “With the appointment, the powers of the administrator extend to all assets and undertaking of the Company. By virtue of the administration, the powers of the directors of the Company in terms of dealing with the Company’s assets have ceased.”

Among creditors who have been demanding their dues from Britania is flour manufacturer Uzuri Foods Ltd who filed a petition seeking to have the firm’s assets liquidated to recover a Ksh17.3 million debt.

Creditors of the company are now required to send full particulars of any claims that they may have against the company to the Administrator on or before September 3, 2021.

The firm was in 2017 acquired by Private Equity (PE) firm Catalyst Principal Partners from the Nitin Dawda family. Dawda established Jambo Biscuits, which traded as Britania, in 1987 and went on to amass a sizeable chunk of the market share becoming one of a handful of local players controlling an estimated 80% of the market alongside Manji Foods and Mjengo Ltd who produce the Nu Vita brand.

Britania’s strong position was attributable to an effective distribution network, affordable price packs for the mass market and lucrative contracts to supply military and aid organizations among other agencies.

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Led by Paul Kavuma, Catalyst is registered in Nairobi but based in Mauritius.

The PE firm had ambitions of leveraging the strength of the Britannia brand to create a regional food and beverages juggernaut.

“One of the pillars is very much to build a regional business beyond just a single domestic play. The other is to broaden our presence within the biscuits category. We think there are plenty more opportunities within the space for innovation and product development,” Kavuma stated in a 2017 interview, adding: “Equally there are extensions into other food and beverage segments which would be very synergistic with biscuits, given that it is a food product and distribution channels can be leveraged and optimised… We also might look at bolt-on acquisitions as well, so that we can gain some scale.”

However, it has since racked up debts and has been riddled with reports of mismanagement.

The shocks of the Covid-19 pandemic which negatively impacted the food and beverages manufacturing sector  pushed the company over the edge.

Britania was also among the biggest losers from the collapse of giant supermarket chains Nakumatt and Tuskys in the past few years. Court documents filed by Britania revealed that the supermarkets collapsed with over Ksh50 million owed to the biscuits manufacturer for supplying them.

The firm had fought liquidation, telling the court that it was pursuing turn-around strategies including engaging potential investors to aid its recovery.

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MARTIN SIELEhttps://loud.co.ke/
Martin K.N Siele is the Content Lead at Business Today. He is also a Quartz contributor and a 2021 Baraza Media Lab-Fringe Graph Data Storytelling Fellow. Passionate about digital media, sports and entertainment, Siele also founded Loud.co.ke
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