LONDON — Unilever P.L.C. has entered a definitive agreement to acquire the Tazo tea brand from Starbucks Corp. for $384 million. The transaction includes all assets of the Tazo brand, including its signature recipes, intellectual property and inventory. Starbucks purchased Tazo in 1999 for $8.1 million.
|Kevin Havelock, president of refreshment for Unilever|
“Tazo represents another strategic addition that strengthens our tea portfolio toward high growth segments,” said Kevin Havelock, president of refreshment for Unilever. “Its artfully crafted specialty teas perfectly complement our global tea business, which includes Lipton, Pure Leaf, PG Tips, T2 and our recent addition, Pukka.”
Unilever acquired Pukka Herbs Ltd., an organic herbal tea business based in the United Kingdom, earlier this year for an undisclosed sum. The acquisition is expected to strengthen Unilever’s foothold in the $2.1 billion herbal, fruit and green tea market, and addresses a gap in its tea business, Mr. Havelock said in September.
|Kees Kruythoff, president of Unilever North America|
Founded in 1994, Tazo offers packaged teas, K-Cup pods and bottled ready-to-drink teas in grocery, mass and convenience channels, and had sales of $112.5 million over the past year.
“With its strong appeal to millennials, Tazo is a perfect strategic fit for our U.S. portfolio,” said Kees Kruythoff, president of Unilever North America. “Tazo’s solid position in the fast-growing specialty tea segment, coupled with Unilever’s tea expertise, presents a fantastic growth opportunity.”
|Kevin Johnson, president and chief executive officer of Starbucks|
Once the transaction is complete, Starbucks will drive a single tea brand strategy and focus with its Teavana brand, Starbucks said.
“Over the past five years, we have established Teavana as our primary global brand focused on the premium tea segment,” said Kevin Johnson, president and chief executive officer of Starbucks. “With our growth strategy for premium tea exclusively focused on Teavana, we are pleased to transition our Tazo business to Unilever. We continue to see significant growth in our tea business through our Teavana brand, and this transition supports our strategy to elevate the premium tea experience for our customers.”The transaction is expected to close during the fourth quarter of 2017.