Nestle Expands into Luxury Chocolate Market with Grupo CRM Stake Acquisition

The financial specifics of the deal remain undisclosed by Nestle, but it is anticipated to be finalized by 2024.

Nestle (NESN.S) has announced its plans to acquire a majority stake in the Brazilian premium chocolate manufacturer Grupo CRM, signaling its strategic move into the luxury confectionery market.

This Swiss food conglomerate revealed the news on Thursday, revealing Grupo CRM’s extensive reach in Brazil, operating over 1,000 chocolate boutiques under the renowned Kopenhagen and Brasil Cacau brands, with a burgeoning online presence.

The financial specifics of the deal remain undisclosed by Nestle, but it is anticipated to be finalized by 2024.

However, according to reports, Nestle is set to pay approximately 3 billion reais ($602.78 million), as per the Brazilian Journal’s estimate, while Valor Economico, a local newspaper, reports the figure to be around 4.5 billion reais ($904.18 million).

Renata Moraes Vichi will continue to serve as Grupo CRM’s CEO and retain a minority stake, ensuring a seamless transition in leadership.

Nestle, renowned for brands like Kit Kat, Aero, and Smarties, has been seeking to expand its presence in the super-premium chocolate segment, where its current offerings are limited, mainly featuring the Italian brand Baci.

During the first half of 2023, Nestle witnessed a substantial surge in confectionery sales, boasting a remarkable 10.8% increase on an organic basis, which excludes acquisitions and currency fluctuations.

Additionally, the business successfully enhanced its underlying trading operating profit margin by 70 basis points, reaching 14.5%.

In a similar vein, Swiss luxury chocolate manufacturer Lindt & Spruengli (LISN.S) has also thrived, experiencing a 10.1% increase in sales during the first half of 2023, with an impressive 38% surge in operating profit.

Laurent Freixe, Nestle’s CEO for Latin America, commented on the acquisition, stating, “This acquisition further broadens and strengthens our confectionery presence in Brazil, enabling us to enter the high-end segment.”

Notably, the Kopenhagen brand’s chocolate bars are priced at 29.90 Brazilian Real ($6.01), while a box of chocolates typically retails for around 130 reais.

Jon Cox, an analyst at Kepler Cheuvreux, acknowledged that the deal might appear unconventional, given Nestle’s predominant focus on its coffee, petcare, and nutrition divisions.

However, he pointed out the strategic advantages, emphasizing the potential for production integration and synergies within Nestle’s existing chocolate business.

Moreover, he underlined the lucrative nature of the premium chocolate category, as demonstrated by Lindt’s successful endeavors in the market.

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