Iceage Delivery Limited, Northern Ireland’s largest deliverer of frozen food to the home, has been sold to an entrepreneurial son and father who intend to significantly expand the operations.

The Corporate Finance division accountancy and business advisory firm, Smith Cooper, introduced the Buyer and Sellers and provided guidance throughout the subsequent deal process.

The Seller, Helen Courtney, set up the business as a Wiltshire Farm Foods (WFF) franchise in Coleraine, northwest of Belfast, in 2001 and has successfully built the business to become the leading meal delivery business in its Northern Irish territory. Helen Courtney commented, “We have been privileged to have been part of the growth and success of Wiltshire Farm Foods over the last 15 years here in Northern Ireland. As regards Smith Cooper, their knowledge of the market, access to buyers and resourcefulness was invaluable in finding the right successors. We would highly recommend them to anyone considering a sale or acquisition in this or any related sector”.

The buyers are Craig and Eddie Johnston, a son and father team of entrepreneurs based in in Belfast area. Craig, who will be the principal operator of Iceage, has experience in the marketing and hospitality sectors whilst his father Eddie operates food retail businesses in the KFC, Pizza Hut and Wagamama brands and also runs care homes. Speaking about the deal, Craig said, “We will build on the strong base already established in Coleraine and expand the WFF offering throughout Northern Ireland. We aim to help older people to retain their independence with the quality of the products and services offered by WFF”.

Smith Cooper operates from 6 offices and employs around 200 staff. The Corporate Finance division ranked in the top 10 in the Midlands in 2015 and has a number of specialisms, including franchise where it dominates the UK fast food and drinks sector. Advice on the Iceage deal was provided by Head of Corporate Finance, John Farnsworth, who commented: “We are delighted to have assisted in securing an exit for Helen, who has built the largest delivery firm of its type in Northern Ireland, by introducing two really excellent businessmen who intend to take the business to still greater success”.

WFF is the UK’s leading frozen home meals delivery service. It is part of apetito UK, which manufactures and supplies carefully nutritiously balanced meals to Care Homes, Local Authorities and Hospitals and, through WFF, to individual householders. Spokesman for apetito Limited, Lee Sheppard, Director of Operations and Performance said, “We are delighted to welcome Craig and Eddie to our team and wish Helen a long and enjoyable retirement”.