Lavazza buys Italian hot chocolate player

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Coffee company Lavazza has closed a deal to acquire Ercom, a leading Italian manufacturer of hot chocolate beverages and mixes for sorbets and cold creams, marketed under the Eraclea, Dulcimea and Whittington brands.

The acquisition is in line with Lavazza’s growth strategy, which will increase its presence in the hotels, restaurants and catering sector.

Gaetano Mele, Lavazza’s chief executive officer, said: “Coffee will remain our core business and Lavazza will continue to represent authentic Italian espresso around the world. Eraclea’s excellent products, effective sales force, and ability to innovate will significantly expand the range of products and services available to our customers. The two companies will immediately achieve considerable growth-oriented synergies while remaining separate and independent.”

Stefano Sacco, Ercom’s chief executive officer, expressed his satisfaction with the deal: “I am very pleased with the new corporate structure, which paves the way for Eraclea to achieve significant new growth. Lavazza is a great resource in terms of skills, long-term vision and sustainable growth, owing in part to its considerable ability to invest and shared passion for the growth of up-market Italian products at home and abroad.”

Lavazza is one of the world’s top coffee roasters, leading the Italian retail market with a value share of 47.6% (Nielsen) and operating in over 90 countries through eight subsidiaries, numerous distributors and direct production facilities located not only in Italy but also in India and Brazil. The company serves the home and away-from-home businesses (foodservice, vending and the coffee shop business) and ended 2009 with sales of over €1.1bn and a workforce of over 4,000 employees through the world.

Ercom is an historical Milan-based firm that boasts a strong presence in the hotels, restaurants and catering sector due to its attention to quality, constant focus on the customer, and unrelenting product and service content innovation. In 2009, it reported sales of over €25m in over 30 countries through over 20,000 points of sale around the world. The company has a staff of 60 employees and a sales force of 100 agents throughout Italy.