According to the terms of the deal, Fairtrade champion Divine Chocolate Ltd has acquired the 69% of shares in US-based Divine Chocolate Inc, owned by other parties.
Kuapa Kokoo, the Fairtrade certified farmers’ co-operative in Ghana that voted to set up the chocolate company in 1997, will own 44% of the merged outfit.
The organisation has more than 80,000 members and has invested Fairtrade premium and profit share from Divine in farmer welfare, community improvements, skills training, and gender equality.
‘Successfully navigate challenges’
“Having launched Divine in the US nine years after the founding company launched in the UK, it has been very exciting to see it successfully navigate all the challenges in the US market and mirror the success of Divine in the UK,” said Divine Chocolate Ltd’s md Sophi Tranchell, who will take the role of ceo of the combined firm.
“We have seen a growing appetite around the world for business being done differently.”
Tranchell said the new structure would strengthen the group, making it more resilient and giving it a wider consumer reach, enabling it to better serve its smallholder cocoa suppliers.
Divine’s finance director David Upton added: “Merging the businesses brings many benefits at this point in the company’s growth. We will be sharing best practice and be in a position to hedge our foreign exchange risk in both the US and the UK.
‘Strong profitable growth’
“The potential in the US is really exciting, and we will be focusing on continuing to deliver strong profitable growth.”
Divine will publish the newly merged figures after year end (end of June). Divine Chocolate Ltd’s 2013-14 turnover was £8.3M and Divine Chocolate Inc’s 2013–14 turnover was $6.1M.
Divine’s international distribution includes Netherlands, France, Czech Republic and Australia. It has seen the most significant growth in US in recent years, so claims that market is a core focus for its future development.
Divine Chocolate Ltd makes bars, gifts and seasonal specialities for supermarkets and independent stores across UK, US and Europe, and Fairtrade specialist stores around the world.