The Barry Callebaut Group is set to acquire Inforum, a leading Russian B2B producer of chocolate, coatings and fillings, as it seeks to extend its presence and production capacity in the high-growth Russian market.
Inforum was founded in 1989 by four entrepreneurs, including Evgeny Bulytov. The company started its business selling cocoa products.
Sales revenue in 2017 was approximately RUB 5.1 billion ($230m). The company operates a production site in Kasimov, Ryazan Oblast (285 km southeast of Moscow) and employs more than 300 people, who will transfer to Barry Callebaut upon completion of the transaction.
Russia is the world’s second largest chocolate confectionery market in volume terms and its traditional chocolate market has a consumption of 4.8 kg per capita according to Euromonitor.
Antoine de Saint-Affrique, CEO of the Barry Callebaut Group, said: “We are delighted to join forces with such an established, locally engrained Russian company. Inforum’s heritage and local knowledge, combined with our innovation capabilities and international experience, will reinforce each other’s strengths. Together, we will be able to bring further excellence and innovation to the market and to serve Russian consumer chocolate manufacturers even better.”
Barry Callebaut has been importing industrial and specialty chocolates to Russia since the late 1990s, and owns a chocolate manufacturing plant in Chekhov, Moscow Oblast, as well as a Chocolate Academy in Moscow to train professional users of chocolate.
Evgeny Bulytov, director of strategic development of Inforum, said: “I am very proud of the great chocolate business we have built from scratch during the last three decades. Our agreement with Barry Callebaut will ensure the successful future of Inforum and our team as part of a large, international group. We really like the business principles and the team spirit on which Barry Callebaut is based.
“One of the co-founders, Victor Voitov, will remain associated with the company as future chairman of the board of Barry Callebaut NL Russia and actively support the integration of Inforum into the Barry Callebaut Group during the transition period.”
Barry Callebaut currently employs approximately 80 people in Russia and the Inforum acquisition, subject to regulatory approval and other closing conditions, should be completed by the end of the year.