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Investment summary:

Fund: PCI IV

Ownership period: 2010-2014

Revenues 2010: 389 MSEK

Revenues 2014: 456 MSEK

Previous owner: Rieber & Son ASA

Current owner: Thai Union Frozen Products PCL

 

Business description:

King Oscar is an award-winning producer of high quality canned seafood including sardines, tuna, salmon, herring, mackerel and anchovies. With over a century of experience in the industry, King Oscar has grown to a globally recognized seafood brand with loyal customers all over the world. King Oscar’s mission is to inspire cooking and eating by bringing the best seafood the ocean can offer to the market.

 

Background:

In 2010 the market for canned seafood was stable and King Oscar operated with a healthy growth and profits. Nevertheless, the management team believed that the company could achieve more and a decision to look for a new owner was made – an owner that was willing to make the necessary investments in order to develop the company further and redefine strategies for underperforming markets.

 

“The old owner, was mostly running the business, not developing it anymore. But among the members of the management team we wanted to take the company to the next level. We wanted an owner with high ambitions that was willing to invest in product development and take the brand to new markets. Procuritas showed a genuine interest for the business and a great desire to operate and develop the company together with us in the management team.”

Geir-Arne Åsnes, CEO King Oscars 1997-ongoing

 

Investment hypothesis:

The years before 2010 focus had been on profit growth but volumes had suffered. In addition the large market in Poland which King Oscar had entered when it bought its factory in Poland was not profitable, dragging down overall margins. What we saw at Procuritas was a company with strong traditions but an underdeveloped brand position. We believed there was an opportunity to increase sales volumes by capitalizing on trends such as health awareness and convenience but also through M&A. Moreover, we believed that the company would benefit from reducing production costs through for instance, production-site relocation and general production efficiency improvements. To sum up, our vision was to reignite the brand through sales and marketing efforts combined with product development, operational improvements and acquisitions in Northern Europe.

 

Value added:

Shortly after the acquisition, Procuritas defined three main tracks for value-creation together with the King Oscar management team; sales & marketing, innovation & product development, and production efficiency.

 

“There was never any doubt about our common goal, Procuritas’ ownership felt reassuring and motivating. Their significant experience of running and developing successful companies was obvious. Additionally, Procuritas was always very hands on in their support of the company and they had the ability to ask the right questions. They were honest, open-minded and highly analytical which made them great board members and an excellent sounding board for the management team.” Geir-Arne Åsnes, CEO King Oscars 1997-ongoing

 

Result:

During the four years following PCI IV’s investment in King Oscar the value creation tracks proved successful. Key-recruitments improved the sales & marketing organization and efforts within product development showed results. In fact, cost efficiency measures proved to be one of the main value creation driver and included measures such as: a relocation of production from Northern Norway to Poland, development of a strategy for co-pack and new product lines as well as improved distribution. The Polish market was restructured, focusing on customers and products which were or could be made profitable. This resulted in a stronger brand, more efficient production and distribution as well as an improved product offering. Additionally, three small add-on acquisitions were made in order to develop the product portfolio further.

 

“During our time with Procuritas we made long term efforts to become a stronger company. We created stronger operations; marketing efforts have strengthened the King Oscar brand, and innovative products improved our market position in countries all over the world. We created a better mackerel taste in the Norwegian market and new tastes of sardines that became a huge success in the US. With Procuritas as an owner we strengthened our product portfolio, market positions and profitability giving us an excellent starting position with our current owner, Thai Union.

Geir-Arne Åsnes, CEO King Oscars 1997-ongoing

 

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