The Zurich-headquartered company – which has helped Perfetti van Melle, Hershey, Nestlé and Lindt expand in Asia - has snapped up a 51% equity stake in eSweets and has an option to buy the remaining stake within two years.
Around 55 employees, predominantly in sales and marketing, will join DKSH. Financial details were not disclosed.
‘Fastest growing e-commerce market’
James Ge, founder of eSweets, said China was “the world’s biggest and fastest-growing e-commerce market” and has tremendous potential.
He said eSweets and DKSH could together offer e-commerce expansion opportunities in China and Hong Kong.
Many major players have already spotted an opportunity for online retail in China.
Mars and Mondelēz this year signed partnerships with Chinese e-commerce market leader Alibaba, while Hershey last year told this site that e-commerce was its fastest growing distribution channel in the country.
A report from SmartPath pegged online chocolate confectionery sales in China at $386m in 2014 and it expects sales to more than triple by 2020 to $1.2bn, a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 21%.
eSweets and major brands
eSweets was established in 2007 in Shangai. It specializes in premium e-commerce confectionery brand such as Jelly Belly, Nehaus, Lindt, Storck, Bahlsen, Arcor and Fini.
The acquisition marks DKSH's latest foray in e-commerce after investing in South East Asia e-commerce provider aCommerce at the end of last year.