Japan’s largest coffee producer buys Lyons’ brand owner, United Coffee

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United Coffee: coffee know-how

United Coffee: coffee know-how

Japan’s leading coffee company, UCC Holdings, is buying United Coffee, Europe’s leading independent coffee group, from the private equity fund, CapVest Equity Partners.

The transaction is expected to complete during the second quarter of 2012 and will bring together two leading coffee groups from Europe and Asia to become one of the five biggest independent coffee companies in the world. United Coffee will continue to trade as United Coffee across all of its key markets.

UCC is Japan’s largest producer of coffee with a turnover of €2.5bn and employs 3,700 people. It supplies some of Japan’s leading companies in retail, out-of-home and industrial markets and owns successful retail and out-of-home brands.  

Founded in 1933 by Tadeo Ueshima UCC remains a family-owned company – with his grandson Gota Ueshima, group CEO at the helm. UCC claims to have a strong track record in innovation and has pioneered coffee culture in Japan for 80 years, including the invention of canned coffee in 1969. It continues to push the boundaries to reflect the latest consumer trends. 

UCC was the first Japanese coffee company to implement an integrated business model and operates a number of coffee businesses with plantations in Jamaica and Hawaii, plus seven plants in Japan. All are said to be certified for their high standards of quality control and operate within strict global safety standards.

Gota Ueshima said: “With the sale of our gift company, Shaddy, last month we have refocused on our long-term strategy of developing a global coffee business. I am very excited that we have been able to acquire one of the greatest coffee companies in Europe and, together with United Coffee, we can create a truly international market- leading coffee group.” 

Per Harkjaer, CEO of United Coffee said: “On behalf of all employees in our group, I am very proud and honoured to join the UCC family. We represent true coffee know-how and share similar values – believing in the importance of close relationships and the need to understand and focus on the local customer. I am sure 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.”

The new group said it has a number of exciting initiatives planned. Earlier this year United Coffee launched its coffee capsule system to the out-of-home market, www.campaninicapsules.com. Following the acquisition, this is now expected to grow in multiple markets worldwide.