One of the UK’s major integrated pig producing and processing businesses has acquired the largest pigmeat processor in the Republic of Ireland, subject to clearance from the Irish competition authorities.

The Karro Food Group has acquired M&M Walshe Holdings, based in Kilkenny. Financial details have not been disclosed. Karro was bought by the London-based investment fund CapVest Partners in 2017, four years after it was spun out of the former VION group as a management buyout. CapVest now manages Karro through its Eight Fifty Food Group which also comprises the Youngs Seafood business.

M&M Walshe, established in 1981, for an undisclosed fee, has processing plants at Kilkenny and Tipperary in Ireland plus one at Redditch in the UK. It trades as Callan Bacon, RibWorld and Stirchley Bacon.

Eight Fifty says the deal will lift annual turnover to £1.4 billion generated by more than 7,500 people working across 19 sites in the UK and Ireland. “Eight Fifty has been working with the Walshe and Clohessy families for over 30 years and have seen their business grow significantly to become one of Europe’s largest sous-vide specialists today,” states its group chief executive Di Walker.

John Walshe of M&M Walshe adds “The interest shown in our business is a great reflection of the quality of our products, our people and our loyal customer base. We look forward to working with Di Walker and the Eight Fifty team and seeing the business flourish under new ownership.”

CapVest says the deal is Eight Fifty’s first outside the UK and underlines its ambition to become a market leader in European food. The group already exports pigmeat and seafood products to the Asian, North American and European protein markets.