Wessanen Buys Clipper Tea

DORSET, U.K.

European health foods conglomerate Royal Wessanen last week acquired Clipper Tea, Britain’s first organic and Fairtrade Certified tea manufacturer.

Clipper was founded in 1984 by Mike and Lorraine Behme who launched the company with two chests of Assam tea. In 2008 they sold the company to FF&P Private Equity for $47 million.

Clipper will remain in Beaminster where it employs 90 and is sold in 50 countries. The firm reportedly earned $25 million from sales of coffee and tea. Details of the sale were not released.

Patrick Cairnes, Wessanen’s chief executive in the UK, said there is “huge growth potential” in the domestic market and overseas. "We very much admire what the team at Clipper has achieved and want to build on this, invest in the brand and manufacturing capability," he said.

Netherlands-based Wessanen, which reported $926 million in 2011 earnings, is best known for organic brands including Whole Earth and Kallo. Organic food sales account for around 3 percent of food dollars spent in Europe. Wessanen CEO Frans Koffrie told Just-Food that “going forward that mainstream customers will buy more and more organic products and the grocery channel will become more important. In five to ten years, the 3% [share] will go up and be a bigger share of the overall food market."

In 1994 Clipper was the first British tea company to be awarded Fairtrade status.

Source: This is Money

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