| Italy

Illycaffè announces minority stake sale to US private equity firm

Sale of 20% stake to US-based Rhône Capital comes as Illy seeks to grow its presence in the US coffee market and globally

Illycaffè has been seeking to grow its international presence, particularly in the US | Photo via Flickr 



Italian coffee roaster Illycaffè will sell a 20% stake in its family-owned business to US investment firm Rhône Capital as it seeks to ramp up international expansion, particularly in the US. The value of the deal is reported to be in excess of €200m ($237m).
 
New York-headquartered Rhône Capital, which specialises in European and trans-Atlantic investments, is said to have been chosen by the Italian coffee roaster following a year-long selection process.
 
“We chose Rhône as a travel companion for this next phase of growth because of their deep, global experience in strategically partnering with family-owned companies and based on their ability to understand Illy’s unique, premium positioning rooted in its superior quality, longstanding heritage and authentic, sustainable business model,” said Illycaffè S.p.A Chairman, Andrea Illy.
 
The sale is significant for Illy, which has been run by the same family since being founded in Trieste in 1933, as it seeks to grow its international presence with new products, including ready-to-drink cold brew and coffee capsules, as well as its coffee bar network.
 
In September 2019 Illycaffè indicated it was willing to sell a stake in its company to facilitate the expansion of its US café network from around 17 stores to more than 200. However, with Covid-19 continuing to disrupt out-of-home café sales, the veteran roaster will likely seek to harness increased demand for at-home coffee products worldwide.
 
The investment marks the latest move by international coffee companies in the US. In September 2020, German coffee group Tchibo announced it would begin selling retail packaged coffee products in the US for the first time. The following month, UK-based Costa Coffee announced the acquisition of US automated coffee kiosk company Briggo.
 
Illy already has an established coffee shop presence in over 30 international markets across Europe, the Middle East and Asia, with a limited presence in the Americas and Africa. Pre-pandemic, an estimated seven million cups of Illycaffè coffee were served at hospitality businesses around the world daily.

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