Womble Bond Dickinson (WBD) has advised the shareholders of Forthglade, the UK's most established maker of natural pet food, on the sale of the business to European private equity group IK Investment Partners (IK), alongside reinvestment from Forthglade's senior management team.

Based in Okehampton in Devon, Forthglade has been making high quality natural dog food for almost 50 years, employing over 130 people in the UK and distributes across supermarkets, independent specialist pet retailers and online retailers including its own website.

IK's new investment will support Forthglade's plans to increase brand awareness and distribution to further drive growth in the UK and overseas. IK will also support Forthglade's further expansion in the business' product range and growth in its manufacturing capabilities.

The WBD team advising on the transaction was led by corporate partner Simon Hewes, managing associates Alex Fergus and Sammy Hill, and solicitors Jo Norris and Jordan Dowe. The firm advised Piper Private Equity on its original £6m backing of Forthglade in 2015 and has a longstanding relationship with the equity firm, having acted for them on a number of high profile investments including into Bottlegreen, Loungers and Orlebar Brown.

Simon Hewes commented:

"Following a successful five year investment programme, it's been a pleasure working with Piper and Forthglade's shareholders on this transaction, seeing how the business has developed and grown in that period. The COVID-19 pandemic presented a number of challenges, but these were overcome with a combination of confidence, pragmatism and innovation using e-signatures to agree terms with the parties involved. WBD had recognised the potential for e-signature platforms to transform the way in which legal documents can be executed well before the COVID-19 pandemic, becoming an early adopter in the legal sector. Therefore, we were in a strong position when the use of this technology became a necessity, rather than an innovative option."

Gerard Lovell, Joint Managing Director of Forthglade, added:

"We're extremely grateful for the expertise and commitment of the WBD team, who pulled out all the stops to make this transaction a great success. It was essential for us to have access to the level of experience and technical expertise from a local team with the resources and reach of a substantial national firm." 

Ranking in the UK's top 20 law firms, WBD supports clients with their regional, national and international growth strategies. The firm has a large corporate practice in the UK advising clients on a broad range of corporate transactions, particularly M&A, IPOs, private equity investments as well as growth and development capital fundraisings.

WBD's Bristol corporate team is led by well-known partners Simon Hewes and Tom Fitzpatrick. The firm has been shortlisted for Corporate Law Firm of the Year at the South West Dealmakers Awards 2020, following a period of significant growth in deal activity including four major M&A transactions in the South West.