Sara Lee expands coffee business in Europe

by Josh Sosland
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UTRECHT, THE NETHERLANDS — Sara Lee Corp., together with a European partner, has agreed to acquire the House of Coffee business from ISS A/S.

Based in Copenhagen, Denmark, House of Coffee is a supplier of beverage and food vending machines. The company’s customers principally are businesses and government agencies.

Sara Lee’s partner in the acquisition is Kaffehuset Friele, based in Norway. Sara Lee holds a 45% stake in Kaffehuset Friele, the leading coffee company in Norway.

“As we prepare for the launch of our successful pure-play coffee company, we continue to strengthen our positions in important markets that will be key to both our success and the success of our partners,” said Jan Bennink, executive chairman of Sara Lee.

Sara Lee said the joint venture allows the company to commercialize its coffee products in Norway and Denmark, including Senseo coffee pods and pods and Cafitesse liquid coffee in the Norwegian market. In Denmark, Sara Lee owns Merrild, the country’s No. 1 coffee brand.

The acquisition of House of Coffee will help Kaffehuset Friele and Sara Lee strengthen their positions across various out-of-home channels in both countries, Sara Lee said.

“Through the acquisition of House of Coffee we get a better foothold in the office coffee market, which is a steadily growing segment,” said Olav Munch, c.e.o. of Kaffehuset Friele. “The strategic partnership between Kaffehuset Friele and Sara Lee continues to provide a strong platform for growth.”

In connection with the transaction, the parties have entered into an agreement to continue providing coffee vending services to the current House of Coffee customers in the Norwegian and Danish markets.

Sara Lee said the transaction is expected to close before the end of December, subject to normal closing conditions, including regulatory approval.

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