Equistone Partners Europe has entered talks to exit Charles & Alice, a French maker of fruit and plant-based desserts. The exit is part of a management buyout backed by Crédit Mutuel Equity. No financial terms were disclosed.
Paris, 8 April 2021 – Thierry Goubault, Chairman and shareholder of Charles & Alice, has entered into exclusive negotiations with funds advised by Equistone Partners Europe (“Equistone”) to buy out their controlling stake in the company. Crédit Mutuel Equity is providing a third successive round of financing to the company to support management’s buyout, having been a majority shareholder in Charles & Alice in 2007 and become a minority shareholder when Equistone invested in 2013. Through this transaction, management aims to become the largest shareholder in Charles & Alice, which specialises in fruit and plant-based desserts
Thierry Goubault and his team have increased the group’s turnover from €22 million to more than €160 million in 2020 and diversified its markets to enable it to address four major segments: branded products in large and medium-sized stores, contract catering, private-label products and international. The Charles & Alice brand, created in 2011 following the acquisition of Hero France, is a leader in its main markets.
The success of the Charles & Alice brand is mainly due to the development of its range of no-added-sugar fruit desserts, but also its ability to innovate in the search for new gourmet, differentiated and locally sourced recipes. The company has also recently invested in plant-based products to target mass distribution and specialised networks in Europe.
The group is experiencing regular organic growth of around 5% per year, which has been underpinned by a policy of significant investment in industrial and CSR areas.
“The independence of the company is a strategic choice in the market for fruit and plant-based desserts, which is controlled by large agri-food groups,” explains Thierry Goubault, who led the management buy-in of the company, then called Charles Faraud, in 2007 with the support of Crédit Mutuel Equity. “This is a challenge in this environment, but it is also a great source of motivation for all our teams, who see this new round of financing as an opportunity to continue working resolutely on the group’s future success.”
“We are delighted to renew our support to Thierry Goubault and his team, with whom we have built strong ties for nearly 14 years. It was natural for us, as a long-term investor that has worked closely with the management team, to remain at their side to write this new chapter, in order to help this fine French mid-sized company preserve its independence and support its transformation and growth,” added Jean-Christophe Vuillot, Director at Crédit Mutuel Equity.
“We are proud to have accompanied Charles & Alice for nearly eight years and to have played our role as a strategic partner. The management of Charles & Alice has done a remarkable job in expanding the product offering and developing in the United States through the establishment of a new production site. The Group has become one of the leading French manufacturers and distributors of fruit compotes and desserts and we are convinced that Charles & Alice is well positioned to continue to consolidate its leadership position in the future,” added Guillaume Jacqueau, Managing Partner at Equistone.
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Crédit Mutuel Equity Crédit Mutuel Equity brings together all the private equity activities of Crédit Mutuel Alliance Fédérale: Expansion Capital, Buyout Capital and Innovation Capital.
Crédit Mutuel Equity provides capital support to managers at all stages of their company’s development – from start-up to transmission – by giving them the resources and time they need to implement their transformation projects. Crédit Mutuel Equity brings together more than 350 managers who share their convictions and questions within a genuine network of entrepreneurs, offering each of them, whatever the nature of their project, the guarantee of benefiting from the experience of others. By investing its own capital (3.5 billion euros), Crédit Mutuel Equity finances companies’ projects according to time horizons adapted to their development strategy, in France as well as in Germany, Switzerland, Canada and the USA.
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