Canadian coffee roaster Kicking Horse sold to Italy's Lavazza
Chain founded in Invermere, B.C., in 1996 has grown over the years
Italian coffee conglomerate Lavazza has bought an 80 per cent stake in British Columbia-based Kicking Horse Coffee in a deal that values the company at $215 million.
Elana Rosenfeld, who co-founded the Kicking Horse brand in Invermere, B.C., in 1996, will continue to own the remaining 20 per cent and will stay on as CEO of the company, which has grown to become the No. 1 organic and fair trade coffee roaster in Canada.
Rosenfeld and partner Leo Johnson started the company more than 20 years ago with a roaster in their garage. Since then it has grown and is now available across North America in cafés, grocery stores and online.
Private equity group Swander Pace Capital bought a controlling stake in the chain in 2012, and sold that interest to Lavazza on Wednesday.
Lavazza has been a major player in Europe's coffee market for more than 120 years, but has turned its focus to other markets in recent years, growing its sales by almost 30 per cent to almost $3 billion Canadian last year by buying up rivals including French coffee brand Carte Noire and Denmark's Merrild.
More than 60 per cent of the chain's sales came from outside Italy in 2016, up from 53 per cent in 2015. Coffee consumption in Italy fell for the third consecutive year in 2016.
Lavazza CEO Antonio Baravalle said earlier this month he expects the company to grow revenues both organically and through acquisitions.
"In terms of markets we are interested in the United States, Canada, Germany and Britain," he said, adding that fast-growing organic and fair-trade coffee businesses were the most attractive segments for acquisitions.
Kicking Horse is a major player in that segment in the Canadian market.
"Organic fair-trade coffee is one of the fastest-growing trends at the international level, and in North America in particular," Baravalle said. "Kicking Horse Coffee leads this segment with a brand that is perfectly complementary to the Lavazza portfolio."
With files from Reuters