Japanese firm swallows Geneva-based coffee maker

by Malcolm Curtis|April 23, 2012

A family-owned Japanese company is taking over Geneva-based United Coffee, the largest independent coffee company in Europe.

British private equity firm CapVest Limited announced on Monday that it is selling through funds it advises the largest independent coffee company in Europe to UCC Holdings for an undisclosed sum.

CapVest said the transaction is expected to be completed in the second quarter of 2012.

The equity firm acquired United Coffee, then known as Drie Mollen, in 2008 and embarked on an expansion policy, which included a transfer of its headquarters to Geneva in 2010.

Over the past four years, United has acquired over 20 businesses across Spain, Switzerland, the UK and France.

CapVest said the company’s annual sales grew by 60 percent over the period to around 422 million euros.

It sells coffee through retail private label deals, to food service chains and to hotels, restaurants and cafes.

United Coffee employs over 1,000 people and roasts around 70,000 tonnes of coffee annually at seven factories located in Holland, Spain, Switzerland, Scandinavia, the UK and France.

It was not initially clear what impact the sale will have on the headquarters operations in Geneva.

UCC Holdings, based in Kobe and Tokyo, posted annual turnover of 2.5 billion euros in the past year.

With 3,700 employees, it sells 92,000 tonnes of coffee annually, operates seven factories and owns coffee plantations in Hawaii and Jamaica.

United Coffee said the combined company will be among the top five largest independent coffee companies in the world.

“I am sure that our new owner will help us to focus on new product development and will enhance our position as the preferred partner for a large number of European customers,” Per Harkjaer, CEO of United Coffee, said in a statement.

Related article: United Coffee eyes targetted expansion from Geneva


About Malcolm Curtis

Freelance English-language communications professional (writing, editing, translations) based near Geneva, Switzerland. Let me know if I can help you.
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