Desjardins funds invest $9 mln in two Québec co-operatives

Capital régional et coopératif Desjardins (CRCD) and Essor et Coopération Fund have invested $9 million in two Québec co-operatives. They are: Citadelle, a maple syrup producers co-operative, and Unicoop, a co-operative focused on the agriculture and agri-food industry. The proceeds of the deal will be used to support Citadelle’s and Unicoop’s expansion plans. CRCD and Essor et Coopération Fund are managed by Canadian private equity firm Desjardins Business Capital régional et coopératif.


Cooperatives Citadelle and Unicoop accelerate their growth

12 Oct, 2016

With backing from Capital régional et coopératif Desjardins and the Essor et Coopération fund

Québec City – In the runup to the third edition of the International Summit of Cooperatives, Capital régional et coopératif Desjardins (CRCD) today announced it has made investments in two major, rapidly expanding Québec cooperatives: Citadelle Maple Syrup Producers’ Cooperative and Unicoop, a cooperative offering a range of services primarily in the agriculture and agri-food industry. Carried out with the support of the Essor et Coopération fund, the investments total $9 million.

Luc Ménard, COO of Desjardins Business Capital régional et coopératif, CRCD’s manager, sees the health of Québec cooperatives as a growth vector for local economies. “Cooperatives are an essential element in developing our regions. As in all sectors of the economy, competition is fierce and coops have to be innovative to stay ahead of the pack and grow. The support announced today will enable these two agriculture and agri-food industry frontrunners to stay in the lead in their respective markets.” Mr. Ménard also noted that since the creation of CRCD in 2001, 35 cooperatives have received support totalling more than $177 million.

For Martin Plante, Citadelle’s Director General, the partnership with CRCD and the Essor et Coopération fund is a growth accelerator for the cooperative. “With demand increasing in every part of the world, we had to find the resources to more actively drive sales of the products we export to some 40 countries. While that’s an exciting situation for all of our 2,000 members, it called for support from a patient partner that believes in cooperative values and understands the importance of growing Québec businesses.” The new investment in Citadelle amounts to $6.5 million. Over three years, CRCD and the Essor et Coopération fund have invested a total of $9.5 million in the cooperative, headquartered in Plessisville.

Gaétan Roger, Unicoop General Manager and CEO, believes that CRCD is the ally of choice to back the expansion plans of the agricultural cooperative headquatered in Sainte-Marie-de-Beauce. “Doing business comes naturally to us at Unicoop. Our market is changing fast due to increasing consolidation, in particular in the farming, hardware and farm machinery sectors. With CRCD support for our expansion plan, we’ll have the means to take advantage of business opportunities through strategic acquisitions that will solidify our position.” The Essor et Coopération fund’s investment in Unicoop totals $2.5 million.

Unicoop is proud to be the regional finalist in the Desjardins Entrepreneur Awards in the Co-op category. View the video at:

Referring to the transactions, Guy Cormier, President and CEO of Desjardins Group, noted that, “Today, Desjardins’ commitments in cooperatives passed the $2 billion mark. Actually, we finance 90% of the cooperatives in Québec. And as business models evolve quickly, that contribution will likely continue to grow because we don’t only believe in cooperative entrepreneurship, we believe first and foremost in the men and women who bring the spirit of cooperation to life. This drive to grow will be felt particularly in the agri-food industry where Desjardins, with loans of $10 billion, is already a market leader, generating spinoffs across all regions of Québec.”

About Citadelle

Founded in 1925, Maple Syrup Producers’ Cooperative Citadelle exports its products to more than 40 countries. Its wide assortment of products, including maple, honey and cranberry, conventional and organic, is available under various trademarks and in a range of packaging formats. Since 2010, Citadelle has grown to establish itself as one of the country’s three largest cranberry processors, and the only cranberry cooperative in Canada. Over 300 employees work with the cooperative in Plessisville, Thetford Mines and La Guadeloupe in the Beauce region, in Aston-Jonction, in Saint-Quentin, New Brunswick and in its boutique-bistros.

About Unicoop

Well-established in the Chaudière-Appalaches, Québec CIty, Portneuf, Mauricie and Laurentides regions, Coop Unicoop offers its members a range of products and services through outlets flying the La Coop, BMR, Unimat, Sonic, Sonichoix and New Holland banners. Every day, nearly 400 employees across some 20 outlets share their passion to build success for the cooperative and satisfaction for its members.

About the Essor et Coopération fund

Managed by Desjardins Business Capital régional et coopératif, the Essor et Coopération fund is a financing and collaboration solution that grew out of the need to enrich the supply of capital available to create and develop Québec cooperatives. It provides support for cooperative start-ups and drives the growth of existing cooperatives, guaranteeing their sustainability and fuelling economic development across Québec.

About Capital régional et coopératif Desjardins

With nearly 100,000 shareholders, Capital régional et coopératif Desjardins (CRCD) is a public company with $1,643 million in net assets. CRCD contributes to Québec economic development through several levers developed with its manager, Desjardins Business Capital régional et coopératif. These levers, with CRCD as the driving force, form its entrepreneurial ecosystem designed to value and nurture the best of Québec entrepreneurship. Directly or indirectly through its ecosystem, CRCD supports the growth of over 410 businesses, cooperatives and funds in various industries spanning all Québec regions, helping to create and retain more than 68,000 jobs.

Information (for journalists only):

Jean-Marie Chouinard
Director of Corporate Affairs and Corporate Secretary
819-362-3241, ext. 235 Unicoop
Marie Desgagné
Senior Director, Communications and Marketing
418-386-2667, ext. 7315
Capital régional et coopératif Desjardins
Richard Lacasse

International Summit of Cooperatives (October 11–13, 2016)

Photo courtesy of Citadelle