Devon-based Pasta King acquired by Northern Ireland business entrepreneurs

Food & Drink | International | Mergers & Acquisitions | South West

Devon-based Pasta King, a national provider of nutritious pasta meals to schools in the UK, has been acquired by two business entrepreneurs from Northern Ireland, Paul Allen and Michael Blaney. The Bristol team at Allied Irish Bank (GB) has provided funding package to support the acquisition.

Established in 1994, Pasta King employs 55 staff at its headquarters in Newton Abbot, Devon, including a country wide network of field sales managers.

Pasta King supplies over 13 million nutritious ‘grab and go’ meals into the primary and secondary education sector in the UK, with a growing presence in the health, leisure and care sector.

The company has sales turnover of around £8m and operates through a network of 19 regional distribution centres to deliver chilled sauces on a daily basis.

Last year, Pasta King was recognised as LACA’s (The School Food People) Outstanding Supplier of the Year 2018 within the education sector.

Paul Allen, who acquired Genesis Bakery in Magherafelt, Northern Ireland last year, and who was previously CEO of Tayto Group, said: “Pasta King provides meal solutions comprising mostly pasta with made to order sauces. The meals are served hot from pasta bars which are loaned to the company’s customer base. As a healthy and tasty food offering, Pasta King has become very popular in primary and secondary schools across the UK and satisfies government standards on salt, saturated fat and vegetable content.”

Allen continued: “Pasta King provides a quick, convenient, freshly made to order solution for caterers faced with an ever-narrowing choice of menu options to offer students.  In addition to its leading position in the UK’s education sector, Pasta King has a growing presence in universities, business and industry, the leisure sector and healthcare establishments. The company is in a strong position and there are a wide range of expansion opportunities to explore such as our recent trialling of a range of single serve café meal boxes for the retail and healthcare sectors.

“There are significant synergies between Pasta King and the many other businesses that Michael and I have worked with in our careers to date.  We believe that our combined insight into the market, coupled with our extensive network, will further Pasta King’s growth. We hope to build on this acquisition and look forward to working closely with the dynamic team at Pasta King. I must also pay tribute to both Keystone Law and Allied Irish Bank (GB) who have been most supportive through the entire purchase process. The service and assistance provided by both organisations has been outstanding.”

Michael Blaney, who was owner and Group Chief Executive of Autoline Insurance Group in Northern Ireland prior to selling that business last year, is the new joint owner of Pasta King.

Blaney commented: “Paul and I are pooling our significant expertise and experience to build upon Pasta King’s strong track record of success and assist with its expansion into new markets.  The company has been consistently innovating and developing new products to accommodate a wide spectrum of dietary requirements with vegan, vegetarian, coeliac and halal options amongst its offering.

“Pasta King also recently launched an exciting new range of curries and Mexican concepts such as burritos and nachos, which will undoubtedly enhance its appeal to customers. In addition, we are currently exploring the production of own-label sauce solutions and ready meals for a number of customers.”

Blaney continued: “Pasta King is committed to providing nutritious food and in terms of food audit and accreditation standards it has a BRC rating as well as the Food for Life Catering Mark.

“Sustainability in non-food areas is also important to both consumers and operators.  Pasta King has met these needs with the introduction of a new 100% plastic-free, fully compostable pot. The manufacturing kitchens in Newton Abbot in Devon operate under a zero-to-landfill policy with all of the electricity coming from sustainable sources.”

Kevin Goodall, Relationship Manager in Bristol at Allied Irish Bank (GB), adds: “Paul Allen and Michael Blaney both have impressive track records in business, and we were keen to support their ambitions to purchase and develop Pasta King. We are delighted to welcome them as a new customer to the bank and wish them all the best for the future as they look to expand the business further and build upon the established success and reputation of Pasta King.”

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