Isara, Leeds food investor, debuts with £300m fund

Leeds-based Isara, a new specialist investor in the food sector, announced the launch of its debut £300 million fund aimed at “improving the efficiency, quality and sustainability of food supply systems across the UK, Ireland and Western Europe.”

The Leeds investor is backed by the Sadel Group, a Luxembourg-based private family office.

Isara said it will invest in food production and distribution businesses “helping to stabilise and improve the current ecosystem undergoing structural shifts caused by rising inflation, the COVID-19 pandemic, Brexit, and a growing commitment to sustainability.”

Led by Michael Rice, Isara’s team has extensive expertise working with businesses and management teams across the food sector, including Eight Fifty Food Group.

“While focusing on majority buyouts, the fund’s flexible investment approach will facilitate investment in opportunities where others cannot invest, as well as enabling Isara to take a longer-term view than traditional private equity investors,” said Isara.

“Practically, this means Isara can support the capital-intensive projects required to deliver radical improvement in the food industry which most investors are unable to deliver.

“The fund is fully backed by the Sadel Group, a private family office which invests and operates in the Real Estate, Cold Storage and Energy sectors, predominantly in the UK & Western Europe.

“The Isara team will execute their own separate acquisition and investment thesis, while also being able to leverage the high level of technical skill present in existing Sadel businesses to help implement value creation plans where relevant.

“Isara’s investment strategy and process will be guided by identifying future portfolio companies with the biggest potential to deliver impact aligned with ESG, positively addressing the significant obstacles facing supply chains in the food sector.

“Other practical areas of consideration for Isara will include improving the carbon footprint of the businesses they invest in, ensuring industry leading corporate governance, supporting and strengthening leadership teams and workforces, and creating sustainable growth.”

Isara partner Michael Rice said: “We are on the cusp of a potential food crisis in the United Kingdom.

“We believe that existing food production and supply chains have become inherently inefficient, and are under unsustainable levels of strain from a number of factors including the coronavirus crisis, increasing energy costs, food inflation and financial market volatility.

“At Isara, our fund will be used to champion increasing the efficiency and sustainability of food systems, seeking to addressing the challenges of long-term underinvestment, labour supply challenges, supply chain security and sustainability.

“Not only is this good business, but this will also create seismic benefits for the wider economy and, ultimately, the sector’s impact on the planet.”

Isara investment director Oliver McRae said: “With the financial backing and industry expertise of Sadel Group, we are well-placed to take the long-term view that the sector sorely needs.

“We are passionate about driving fundamental change in business through establishing positive and long-lasting partnerships with companies and their stakeholders. We look forward to seeing this positive impact realised in the near-term and beyond.”