French chocolate firm expands into Eastern Europe

By Karen Willmer

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags European union Eastern europe Europe

The Cemoi group has acquired Polish chocolate producer Gryf as part
of its strategy to expand into the eastern European market.

The family-owned confectionery firm acquired Gryf on 22 May 2007, but it was only made public this week "when the legal obligations were bet and the people in the factory were informed"​, the company told According to Datamonitor, the Polish confectionery market increased at an annual rate of 4.3 per cent between 2000 and 2005, and so firms such as Cemoi are keen to take advantage of the market. Ninety five percent of the Cemoi Group's €500m turnover in 2006 was generated in western Europe, and it is now following a strategy to expand into eastern Europe. "The Cemoi Group was looking for opportunities to expand on the Central and East European markets, and at the same time was looking for additional capacity to process cocoa beans inEurope,"​ the company stated. "Gryf responded to these two objectives." ​The company claimed the Polish deal would strengthen its position on the industrial chocolate market, which represents 50 per cent of its sales. "The potential of the Polish market as a whole is important,"​ the company stated. ​Polish based Gryf has a turnover of €15m and a production capacity of couverture chocolate of about 20,000t. Couverture chocolate usually contains a minimum of 32 per cent cocoa butter, which enables it to form a much thinner shell than ordinary confectionary coating. Following the accession of Poland into the EU, Gryf has suffered due to the opening of the economy to EU competitors. However Cemoi now hopes the deal can strengthen the company's future. The group claims to have taken over the Gryf company "with the firm intention to maintain and further develop the activities of Gryf inPolandand the region". ​Cemoi is based in Perpignan, France, and operates in France, Germany, UK, Spain and the Ivory Coast, producing over 150,000 tonnes of chocolate each year. Cadbury currently holds the top position in the Polish chocolate market following its £49m (€73m) acquisition of Wedel in 1999. This follows its acquisition last week of Romania's second largest confectionery company Kandia-Excelent.

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