Michael Barber, who was chairman of Wassen for five years, held a majority stake but is now retiring from the business. Financial details of the deal have not been disclosed.
Managing director Tim Snook told NutraIngredients.com that the fact that Vital, a 65-year old family-owned company, has its own manufacturing plant near Cape Town, while Wassen does not, is “an early interest” for bringing operational efficiencies.
However he played down the impact this will have on existing arrangements with suppliers and manufacturers Wassen currently works with to serve the 30+ countries in which its supplements are currently sold.
“We don’t envisage that will change hugely. South Africa may well manufacture products for us, but it will be a welcome addition.”
Snook also said that employee headcount at the two companies will be unaffected.
“Wassen and Efamol Ltd will run entirely as before,” he said. “Clearly having an association will help us, Wassen, to have a greater resource to call on, and we hope to see operational efficiencies.”
Efamol is the Yorkshire-based omega-3 company that Wassen acquired in 2006.
In terms of R&D and new product development, Snook is confident that the new controlling stake will enable sharing of resources and ideas.
The two companies will also explore opportunities to take their respective product ranges into new markets. Vital Health Foods, which was founded in 1947 and is the largest health food company in Africa, currently exports to 20 countries – not just in Africa but in Western and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, the Far East, North America and Australia.
Barber was involved in decision-making at Wassen. The role of chairman will now be filled by George Grieve, managing director of Vital Health Foods, while Vital’s financial director, David Dalton becomes director.