Swiss chocolate maker Barry Callebaut has continued its European expansion with the acquisition of the Dutch-Belgian company Luijckx, which operates at the luxury end of the market.
Luijckx is owned by Dutch group Graverboom and through its subsidiary Hoogenboom Benelux produces high-quality chocolate products and decorations primarily for users such as bakeries, pastry chefs and the hotel, restaurant and catering (horeca) sector.
Barry Callebaut, which is the world's leading manufacturer of cocoa and chocolate products, did not say how much it had paid for the company, but stressed that the deal would give it a market leading position in the horeca sector in the Benelux and NAFTA region. Luijckx will be integrated into Barry Callebaut's gourmet & specialties business unit
This unit is seen as a core area for growth by Barry Callebaut, and the addition of the Luijckx business will allow it to achieve synergies by expanding production, streamlining its product range and rationalising its commercial network. Barry Callebaut's gourmet & specialties business unit posted sales €286.2 million in 2001/02. Its main brands are Cacao Barry, Callebaut and Carma. Luijckx sales last year reached €33 million.
The Dutch/Belgian company claims to be the world leader in sophisticated chocolate decorations for professional users. Its extensive product range covers products sold made by both Luijckx -such as chocolate, sugar and chocolate decorations and marzipan - as well as those made by Hoogenboom, such as savoury products, frozen pre-cut cakes and toppings. The products, sold under the Chocolate Masters and Chocolux names as well as numerous private labels, complement those of Barry Callebaut both in terms of geographic presence and range.
While Luijckx will be fully integrated into the Barry Callebaut unit, the current team of owners and directors - Theo Graban, Leo Hoogenboom and Ad Vergauwen - will continue to manage the Luijckx group, ensuring that existing relationships with customers are maintained, Barry Callebaut said.
Benoît Villers, head of the gourmet & specialities business unit at Barry Callebaut, said:"Barry Callebaut is the worldwide leader in supplying bakeries, pastry chefs, hotels, restaurants, caterers and other professional users with chocolate and cocoa-based products. Our range mainly focuses on ingredients to be transformed by craftsmen. With Luijckx, we will be able to go one step further into the convenience approach with a range of ready-to-use/ready-to-sell products fitting with the new trends of this business.
"This complementary range of products will allow us to increase our offer to craftsmen and to strengthen our leadership position in a fast moving environment. Furthermore, we plan to use the Luijckx factory in Zundert, Netherlands, as the 'Barry Callebaut Gourmet facility', allowing us to run small series and offering us the flexibility necessary to develop new products and packaging. We are looking forward to moving in this direction together with Luijckx, which has been an esteemed business partner of ours for many years."
Theo Graban, chief executive of Luijckx, added:"We are happy to become part of the world's number one in high-quality chocolate and of a business unit fully dedicated to the needs of professional chocolate users. This move will be to the benefit of our existing customers, it will offer new opportunities to our employees and it will allow Luijckx to grow on an international scale."