Canadian group Sofina Foods on Monday reached a deal to acquire Young's Seafood parent Eight Fifty, bringing the UK's largest seafood company under Canadian ownership.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Markham, Ontario-based Sofina Foods produces frozen seafood and poultry brand Janes -- primarily breaded and battered products. The company uses haddock, pollock, cod and sole in its line.

Sofina Foods is one of Canada's largest food producers, supplying a diversified mix of proteins and brands to both the retail and foodservice sector.

Prior to the acquisition, Sofina operated 21 different sites and employs around 5,000 people. With the addition of the Eight Fifty business, Sofina will more than double its number of sites to 44, and nearly triple its total workforce to 13,000 people.

The revenue of the new group is expected to be close to CAD$6 billion ($4.7 billion).

Private equity group CapVest Partners acquired Young's in 2019, two years after acquiring UK pork producer Karro Foods, as part of a plan to create a multi-protein group.

Eight Fifty Food Group, which has sales of £1.2 billion (€1.3 billion/$1.5 billion) and employs over 5,000 people across the United Kingdom and Ireland.

In December 2020, CapVest Partners said it was eyeing further opportunities to acquire additional businesses in the sector.

Eight Fifty Food Group acquired German frozen fish producer Greenland Seafood for an undisclosed amount in October 2020, while there was also talk the company was looking to publicly list at some point this year.

In the 78 weeks ending March 2020, the most recent available statistics, Young’s posted a loss of £10 million (€11 million/$13.5 million) and operating loss of £7.8 million (€8.6 million/$10.5 million).

Turnover for the latest period was £815 million (€898.7 million/$1.1 billion), while operating profit, before adjusted items, was £5.7 million (€6.3 million/$7.7 million).

A troubled run

Young’s, whose iconic brand has been in the UK for decades, has struggled in recent years under the weight of high debt margin pressure from both retailers and raw material suppliers.

Private equity groups Lion Capital, Bain Capital and HPS Investment Partners bought the business from CapVest in 2008 in a £1.1 billion (€1.2 billion/$1.4 billion) swoop that included the Findus frozen foods brands.

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Lion went on to break up the operation in 2015, striking a £500 million (€554.1 million/$643.7 million) deal to sell the European arm of Findus to Birds Eye-owner Nomad Foods, leaving it with the Young's operation in the UK.

In April 2018, the three private equity owners officially kicked off the sales process for Young's Seafood.