The Barry Callebaut Group has signed an agreement to acquire Inforum, a Russian B2B producer of chocolate, coatings and fillings, serving many of the well-known consumer chocolate brands in Russia. This strategic acquisition will strengthen Barry Callebaut’s presence and production capacity in the high-growth Russian market, allow it to expand its market position, to leverage its value-adding Gourmet & Specialties business and to further increase market penetration in CIS countries and export markets.
Inforum was founded in 1989 by four entrepreneurs, including Evgeny Bulytov. The company started its business selling cocoa products. Sales revenue in 2017 was about RUB 5.1 billion (CHF 86 million / EUR 77 million). The company operates a production site in Kasimov, Ryazan Oblast (285 km southeast of Moscow) and employs more than 300 people, who will transfer to Barry Callebaut upon completion of the transaction.
After importing industrial and specialty chocolates to Russia since the late 1990’s, Barry Callebaut built a chocolate manufacturing plant in Chekhov, Moscow Oblast (60 km south of Moscow), which became operational in 2007, and also has a CHOCOLATE ACADEMY™ center – a training center for professional users of chocolate – in Moscow. Barry Callebaut currently employs about 80 people in Russia.
The acquisition of Inforum will enable Barry Callebaut to significantly expand its presence and manufacturing capacity in Russia, the world’s second largest chocolate confectionery market in volume terms. Russia is a traditional chocolate market and has a consumption of 4.8 kg per capita according to Euromonitor. Growth rates in volume terms are significantly above the global chocolate confectionery market according to Nielsen1.
Antoine de Saint-Affrique, CEO of the Barry Callebaut Group, said: “We are delighted to join forces with such an established, locally engrained Russian company. Inforum’s heritage and local knowledge, combined with our innovation capabilities and international experience, will reinforce each other’s strengths. Together, we will be able to bring further excellence and innovation to the market and to serve Russian consumer chocolate manufacturers even better.”
Evgeny Bulytov, Director of Strategic Development of Inforum, added: “I am very proud of the great chocolate business we have built from scratch during the last three decades. Our agreement with Barry Callebaut will ensure the successful future of Inforum and our team as part of a large, international group. We really like the business principles and the team spirit on which Barry Callebaut is based. One of the co-founders, Victor Voitov, will remain associated with the company as future Chairman of the Board of Barry Callebaut NL Russia and actively support the integration of Inforum into the Barry Callebaut Group during the transition period.”
The transaction is subject to regulatory approval and other closing conditions. Expected completion is by the end of the calendar year. The parties have agreed not to disclose any financial details of the transaction.
1 Nielsen: Aug 2017-April 2018: Russia +9.2%; global +2.5%