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Will RCL changes feed into acquisitions?

MILES Dally, the long serving CEO of Remgro-controlled consumer brands giant RCL Foods, will retire at the end of November – perhaps heralding a new strategy to build up the grocery brands business more aggressively.

Dally will be succeeded by Paul Cruickshank, who currently serves as chief operating officer of RCL’s Food division. Cruickshank takes over at a critical junction for RCL, which has already separated its Rainbow Chickens division under new management lead by former Country Bird Holdings (CBH) CEO Martinus Stander.

Food sector sources are speculating that with Cruickshank at the helm RCL might look to aggressively broadening its higher margin grocery brands basket – which includes brands like Ouma (rusks), Nola (mayonnaise), Sunbake (bread) and Supreme (flour) as well as an array of pet food products.

An obvious deal would be for Remgro to merge its Siqalo Foods business – acquired from Unilever over two years ago and comprising spreads brands like Flora, Stork and Rama – into RCL.

But there is also some conjecture that smaller local food companies like Libstar and RFG might hold brands that whet RCL’s appetite.

Libstar, which still has a private equity player holding sway, has a very profitable niche in the dairy segment with an array of cheeses and yoghurts and a decent position in spices and sauces. The dairy segment could be a valuable add on of Siqalo is added to RCL. Libstar also has products – mostly packed for supermarkets – that cater for the increasingly popular banting and vegan diets.

While it seems doubtful RCL would be keen on canned fruit and juices, RFG has a pie business that could easily slot into RCL’s existing Pieman’s business.

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