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Essentially Group completes £2m acquisition of Best of Latin Foodstuff, appoints new executive director

13:48, 10th May 2024
Victor Parker
Vox Newswire

Essentially Group (ESSNFollow | ESSN, a Middle East-focused manufacturer of healthy snacks and drinks, announced that its wholly-owned Abu Dhabi-based subsidiary Essentially Holdings has acquired Best of Latin Foodstuff Trading for a total consideration of £1.945m. The purchase will be satisfied via 3.705m new shares in ESSN at £0.525p. ESSN's last closing price was £0.45p.

Essentially also announced that Catalina Oñate formerly of Best of Latin would be joining ESSN's board as Executive Director with immediate effect. The Board separately announced that Ragnar Meitern would be stepping down as Non-Executive Director, with a successor to be announced soon.

Raja Abuljebain, CEO of Essentially, commenting: "We are very pleased to complete this acquisition and welcome Best of Latin and Catalina to the Essentially group. This marks a significant milestone in our growth journey, which aligns seamlessly with our commitment to developing companies which can enable consumers to live fuller, healthier lives. Work is already well under way to deliver on the opportunities and synergies which we see between our businesses - together, we will be able to take the Essentially group to new heights. I would like to thank the teams at Best of Latin and Essentially for their hard work and dedication throughout the acquisition process and to Catalina for entrusting us with our shared futures. We couldn't be more excited for the journey ahead."


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A major acquisition for Essentially (Mktcap £23m) as it adds Best of Latin to its portfolio. The £1.945m purchase will be satisfied via ESSN shares issued at a significant premium to the group's last closing price. Dealings are expected to commence on May 17, 2024, and the the consideration shares will be subject to a lock-in agreement for 12 months. Additionally, ESSN gains a new highly experienced Executive Director in Catalina Oñate.

Oñate joins ESSN after founding and running CI World Food Trading since 2011, the UAE's first supplier of food products from Latin America to the high-end hotel and restaurant market in the country. Oñate was also the first person to establish a high-pressure processing tolling facility in the UAE, setting a standard for food safety and clean-label products in the region.

CI World Food Trading rebranded to Best of Latin Foodstuff Trading in 2016, continuing the same mission of importing high-quality food products from Latin America to the Middle East. The business should integrate seamlessly into Essentially, which shares the same mission and business model rooted in the UAE's burgeoning sector of health-conscious consumption.

The acquisition is expected to further enhance ESSN's market position and reach within the Middle East market. In 2023, ESSN made headlines as the first international business to float on Aquis. In H1 2023, the group recorded a 14% year-on-year increase in operational trading revenue. The sales growth reflected ESSN's ongoing retail expansion, with its store footprint increasing by 53% during the same period. Gross margins also improved to 52% from 41% in FY22.

Essentially also places a a strong emphasis on ESG values and sustainability as evidenced by its partnerships, notably with RECAPP by Veolia, where it made tangible strides in reducing CO2 emissions. Furthermore, the group transitioned to biodegradable bottles last year, and  was selected as the preferred supplier of juice to the UN Climate Change Conference a.k.a. COP28 that took place from 30 November to 12 December 2023 at Expo City, Dubai.

We expect further growth this year as Essentially continues to target the valuable healthy food niche in the growing UAE retail and food service sector, supporting millions of travelers and residents.

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