Maximuscle was estimated to hold a 10 per cent share of the UK's sports drinks and supplements market in 2002, a sector that grew 37 per cent that year to reach a retail value of £166 million in 2003, according to Mintel.
This is an increase over annual market growth of 30 per cent between 2001 and 2002 and this rapid growth was a major factor in the sale.
"We have been observing the growth within the sports nutrition sector and also liked Maximuscle's strong brand position in the market," said Peter Kemp-Welch of Piper Private Equity, the investment firm behind the acquisition. It is also involved in the Pitcher & Piano pub chain and other consumer brands.
According to Mintel research, Maximuscle's share is second only to GlaxoSmithkline, which had sales of £51 million in 2002, driven by its Lucozade Sport brand. However Maximuscle makes a range of more specialist sports products, including Promax, a protein supplement, Progain, designed to build muscle and Creatamax. Many of the brands have high profile users in the sports world.
The company, which is expected to record sales of £10 million this year, formulates, sources and distributes sports nutrition products through mail order, the internet, gyms healthfood shops and increasingly through supermarkets.
It also claims to test each batch of its products in an ISO 17025 certified testing programme, created by the firm to test for the presence of IOC banned substances.
Kemp-Welch said that the new owners would be able to take the firm, founded by a 20-year old entrepreneur Zef Eisenberg some ten years ago, to the next level.
"I certainly think this could be a £50 million business in five years time," he added, explaining that the new management would add brand development expertise and wide industry experience.
Piper is investing £3.2 million in the business along with some reinvestment from Eisenberg. The new owners have also brought in Paul Hick, formerly chief executive of jeans company Lee Cooper and a former managing director of Waterford Wedgwood, to become new company chairman, while Ivor Harrison, the former group marketing director of Premier Foods, is joining as managing director.