Lutosa retail, previously part of the PinguinLutosa group, had been put up for sale as a condition of European competition authorities’ clearance for that group’s acquisition by McCain, in 2013.
Findus ceo James Hill said the acquisition of the potato brand would provide multiple benefits to its business.
“We are determined to grow our business and this acquisition gives us two new ways to do so,” he added. “We can bring our broader expertise into the Belgian market and we can leverage the famed qualities of Belgian potatoes and frites elsewhere.”
‘Expertise and high quality’
The Lutosa brand, which Findus planned to rebrand as its own, currently accounts for 15% of the Belgium retail frozen potato market, which Findus put down to “its expertise and reputation for high quality French fries and specialty potato products”.
“The scope of this transaction is limited to the Lutosa branded retail business which is a small proportion of the total Lutosa operation,” a Findus spokesman added. “This deal is essentially the licence to use the Lutosa brand in retail channels. As part of the deal, Findus have the right to continue to use the Lutosa retail brand for up to seven years.”
Findus said it was a small but important acquisition for the company, which provided a significant platform and presence in Belgium. The deal would also offer synergies with Findus’s operations in France, it added.
“Since the financial restructure of 2012, Findus have stabilised their financial position with the issue of a bond in 2013 and are delivering solid performance improvements,” a spokesman said. “This acquisition is small but should be seen as an example of Findus Group's intention to continue to develop their business through organic and acquisitive means.”
Findus Group’s approach to Belgium, with the acquisition of a local brand’s license with the strategy of eventually rebranding to Findus, mirrors the firm’s 2011 expansion into Spain via the acquisition of the Frudesa and Findus brands there, said the group.
Findus Group refused to share further information on the deal/transaction size.
Lutosa produces potato wedges, croquettes and rösti as well as French fries from its two production sites in Leuze-en-Hainaut and St-Eloois-Vijive in Belgium.
It currently employs 800 people and processed 800t of potatoes and sold 370,000t of finished products last year.
Lutosa exports 88% of production to 111 different countries and has an annual turnover of €251M.