Heineken has bought the firm from its current management, and said Stassen had strong research and development (R&D) capabilities and facilities.
The terms of the transaction were undisclosed, but Heineken's corporate communications manager for global corporate relations, Anoeska van Leeuwen, told BeverageDaily.com that Stassen "has great strategic value for us".
"The strategic acquisition of Stassen comes at a time when the international cider category is gaining momentum," Heineken said in a statement.
As a global category leader, the firm added that it was positioning itself to benefit from this trend through innovative product offerings.
These included recently introduced Bulmers No. 17 and Jacques ciders, as well as the international roll-out of its global cider priority brand Strongbow Gold (see picture) the firm said.
Premium market leader
Stassen operates a cider-making facility, an R&D facility (including a new product pilot plant) and a de-alcoholisation facility for cider, beer and wine.
According to Heineken, the company has unique cider R&D expertise and was closely involved in the development of several recent launches, such as Strongbow Gold, Jacques and Bulmers No. 17.
Philippe Stassen, MD of Stassen, said: "By integrating Stassen Ciders into the Heineken company and becoming its cider R&D centre, we are strengthening our leading position in the category's premium market segment.
"This is a great opportunity for our employees and for our site in Aubel, which will further enhance its international scope. We are looking forward to the next phase of our growth story," he added.
Extensive cider activity
Alexis Nasard, Heineken chief commercial officer said: “We are excited about Stassen Ciders and its employees becoming part of the Heineken company. Stassen’s strong R&D and innovation capabilities will serve us well in a time when there is a lot of new product activity in the category.
"Consumers around the world are increasingly intrigued by cider and its unique, refreshing taste, 100% natural ingredients and rich heritage and we are well positioned to capitalise on this opportunity.”
Van Leeuwen told BeverageDaily.com: "The cider category is gaining momentum due to expanding consumer interest in wanting to taste new flavors and products. Additionally we are investing in marketing and innovation to make the category even more interesting."
Although Ven Leeuwen refused to reveal Heineken's cider volume and value sales, the firm styles itself as the world’s leading cider maker, due to its market-leading position in the UK market (the world’s largest) and strong positions in nations such as Finland, the Netherlands, Hungary, Italy, Canada and the United States.