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Katjes eyes fruit gum expansion as it ups stake in Dutch licorice maker Festivaldi

By Oliver Nieburg+

20-Jan-2016
Last updated on 20-Jan-2016 at 12:49 GMT2016-01-20T12:49:33Z

Harlekijntjes brand is the leading licorice product in the Netherlands, says Katjes
Harlekijntjes brand is the leading licorice product in the Netherlands, says Katjes

A subsidiary of Katjes International has taken over the remaining shares in Harlekijntjes brand licorice maker Festivaldi as it looks to grow the brand’s presence in fruit gums.

Katjes Nederland has owned half of the business since 2010, but it has now acquired the remaining 50% stake.

“Before then the sellers didn’t want to sell the full business. But both of us realized it was better to have one party as the full owner,” Stephan Milde, CFO of Katjes International, told ConfectioneryNews.

Expansion prospects: Fruit gums and Germany

Festivaldi’s Harlekijntjes brand is the top-selling liquorice product by volume in the Netherlands, said Milde.

Katjes previously branched out into fruit gum by launching a single product under the Harlekijntjes brand, but it now sees potential for a complete range.

Festivaldi already exports to Nordic countries, but Katjes also sees opportunities in its home market Germany.

“The Dutch people consume so much licorice that the Germans associate licorice from the Netherlands with high quality,” said Milde.

Dutch licorice lovers

Festivaldi operates from a single plant in Nijkerk, near Utrecht, and Milde said there was capacity to expand at the Dutch factory.

“The [Dutch] licorice market is saturated or slowly growing, it’s not a high growth market,” continued the CFO.

But he said Dutch consumers were the highest licorice consumers per capita in the world, giving the brand a strong resonance.

Katjes has been expanding in recent years. In October 2014, it acquired a 100% stake in fellow German confectioner Piasten.

The firm’s international branch also issued a €60m ($67m) corporate bond to bankroll acquisitions in May last year.

Katjes International acquired a perpetual license from Procter & Gamble to sell and distribute Vicks cough drops in Europe and Russia in November.

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