Brake Bros. plc

19 Jul 2000

Simmons & Simmons advises Brake Bros on its acquisition of Cearns & Brown for £32 Million

Brake Bros. plc, the leading supplier of food to the catering industry, has acquired Cearns & Brown Limited, the largest independent and privately owned foodservice wholesaler in the UK, for £32 million. Simmons & Simmons advised Brake Bros. on the deal, which was announced on Friday 14 July.

The transaction significantly increase the stake of Brake Bros. in the wholesale chilled and ambient food market and is a major step in delivering its stated objective of achieving a leading position in this market.

For Simmons & Simmons, the deal represented the first corporate transaction for the client for some years and is therefore a significant development in the relationship with Brake Bros.

The purchase consideration is £23.7 million, payable in cash from Brake Bros.' existing resources. Brake Bros. will also take over existing bank and other borrowings of Cearns & Brown of £8.3m. Cearns & Brown, which is based at Runcorn, Cheshire, was established over 100 years ago and has been privately controlled by successive generations of the Stoddart family. A traditional wholesaler of ambient grocery products, Cearns & Brown has over the last 10 years extended its offering to chilled and frozen foods, which together now represents 28% of its sales. Cearns & Brown has been a direct competitor of Watson & Philip, which Brake Bros. acquired in 1998. The group will now merge the businesses to grow its share of the ambient and chilled food markets.

The Simmons & Simmons team was led by Corporate Partner Steven Bryan and included Jaya Gupta, Sebastian Rice and Sarkis Zeronian (Corporate), Lisa Cristie (Tax), Harriet Hohler and Adam Atkinson (Commercial), Carol Shaw (Property), Ian Greenstreet (Pensions), Justine Thornton (Environment), Catherine Frampton (Employment) and Justin Davidson (Intellectual Property).

Cearns & Brown were advised by Liverpool firm, Bullivant Jones.

Notes for editors:

Simmons & Simmons is worldclass law firm with offices in London, Paris, Brussels, Düsseldorf, Lisbon, Milan, Rome, Madrid, Abu Dhabi, Hong Kong, Shanghai and New York with over 1,400 staff worldwide. For further information on Simmons & Simmons please visit our website at

2. The Corporate Department at Simmons & Simmons comprises over 220 legal staff (115 in London), including 47 partners (27 in London). It advises on the whole range of corporate finance activity, and mergers and acquisitions as well as other corporate law matters for listed and unlisted companies, in the United Kingdom and overseas.

3. For further information, please contact:
Steven Bryan, Partner, Corporate Department
Louise Resnick, Media Relations Manager