Issa brothers: Asda owners buy UK's second-largest bakery
Self-made billionaires Mohsin and Zuber Issa, who in the past year have bought supermarket giants Asda and fast food retailer Leon, have added one of the UK's biggest bakery chains to their empire.
Their company, forecourt giant EG Group, has bought Cooplands, which employs more than 1,600 people.
Founded in 1885, Cooplands owns three bakeries that process ingredients and manufacture fresh food to around 180 stores and cafes, mainly in the North East and Yorkshire.
The purchase means the brothers, who built their fortune from a petrol station in Bury, continue to expand their foodservice operations.
The deal will see Cooplands food sold throughout the country through EG's network of petrol station forecourts and shops.
"Today’s transaction will provide a platform to diversify the Cooplands brand into the transient petrol forecourt and retail convenience store channel, alongside the bakery chain’s traditional store formats, through EG Group’s extensive UK network," EG Group said in a statement.
In a joint statement, Zuber and Mohsin Issa said: "We are very pleased to welcome Cooplands’ many talented colleagues to the EG Group family.
"Cooplands has a proven track record in the fresh bakery sector and vertical integration with EG Group will help to further drive our success in foodservice, where we continue to see strong growth opportunities in the UK and globally."
The news comes at the same time as EG selling 27 of its UK petrol stations. They were sold as part of an agreement with the Competition and Markets Authority to address concerns around its purchase of Asda.
The brothers came to prominence after buying Asda last year for nearly £7bn. EG also bought healthy fast food business Leon in April for around £100 million.
In May, the brothers were back in the news for creating hundreds of jobs for youngsters at risk of long-term unemployment.
The pair have not forgotten their roots or their community either — they plan to build a £5m mosque in their hometown of Blackburn.