Ülker is the market leading chocolate company in Turkey. The Yildiz subsidiary owns a 19% stake in the thriving Godiva Chocolatier business, while the remaining 81% is owned by Yildiz.
A 20% stake in Ülker was sold to foreign investors mainly from Europe and the US late last week for around $431m.
Yildiz Holding’s Ülker division chief financial officer, Bora Yalinay, told ConfectioneryNews that the sale of Ülker was to increase the liquidity of Ülker stock on the Borsa Istanbul Stock Exchange (BIST).
Godvia sales soar
Yildiz recently highlighted how its Godiva business was blossoming since it acquired the firm from previous owners Campbell Soup Company for $850m in March 2008.
Godiva revenues have increased 10% each year since Yildiz acquired the Belgian chocolatier. Yildiz expects another 10% growth for Godiva by the end of 2013, taking revenues to $765m.
Godiva CEO James Goldman put the growth down to big investments in marketing, a 40% increase in staff and infrastructure investing.
International priorities for Godiva
Over the five year period, Godiva has also grown capacity at its factories in Belgium and the US.
This has helped international sales surpass expectations, particularly in the US and Japan.
Godiva also entered new markets in Australia, China, Indonesia, Korea, Macau, Saudi Arabia and Turkey when it became part of the Yildiz group.
Goldman identified China, the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey as priorities for international growth.
Godiva grew revenues In Japan from $154m in 2009 to $250m in 2013 despite the economic recession, earthquake and tsunami disasters.
In its first half (H1) results announced in August, Yildiz’s Ülker business reported improved sales due to uplift in the chocolate category.
Its H1 sales were up 16.1% compared to the same period last year to TL 1.3bn ($671m). However, the firm’s net profit was down 3.9% to TL 111 million ($573m) mainly due to foreign currency loses and the strength of the Turkish Lira against the US dollar.
Market competition has heightened in Ülker’s home market as Mondelez recently entered the Turkish biscuit category and rival ETi made new launches in cakes. Sanset Gida also recently acquired Italian chocolate company Pernigotti and Ferrero opened its Turkish factory last month.
Ülker has forecast full year net sales of TL 2.6bn ($1.3bn) and an 11-11.5% EBITDA margin.