illycaffè chooses Rhône Capital as its partner to further accelerate international development
TRIESTE, NEW YORK AND LONDON – November 21st, 2020 – illycaffè S.p.A., a leading global premium coffee brand, based in Trieste, Italy, announced today the sale of a minority stake of the Company to affiliates of Rhône Capital (together with its affiliates, “Rhône”), a global private equity firm with a focus on investments in businesses with pan-European, North American or transatlantic presence.
illycaffè chose Rhône as its partner to lead the Company into its next phase of international growth after a long and rigorous selection process which took more than a year. Founded in 1933 by Francesco Illy, the Company has built a global premium coffee brand present in more than 140 countries and recognized for the superior quality of its unique blend, as well as for its strong ethical values focused on sustainable business practices and close relationships with the coffee growers’ community.
Rhône was chosen for its ability to contribute to illy’s international footprint expansion, particularly in the US, and will serve as a resource to further strengthen the Company’s platform in executing its growth plans. The partnership with Rhône represents another key milestone on the path to firmly establishing illycaffè as a management-led company underpinned by the continued solid strategic vision of the family. This strategic decision will further solidify the global leadership position of illycaffè and complement the generational transition that has already begun with the appointment of the fourth generation of the Illy family to the Board of Directors, who enthusiastically approved this new partnership.
Andrea Illy, Chairman of illycaffè, said: “We chose Rhône as a travel companion for this next phase of growth because of their deep, global experience in strategically partnering with family-owned companies and based on their ability to understand illy’s unique, premium positioning rooted in its superior quality, longstanding heritage and authentic, sustainable business model. By partnering with illycaffè, Rhône has demonstrated that it shares our inclusive approach to value creation, which considers all our stakeholders and is deployed in combination with the pursuit of the highest ethical standards in running our business. I strongly believe that Rhône will be an ideal partner as we continue to realize our dream of offering the greatest coffee to the world, which is our foundation and uncompromised vision for the future.”
“Rhône has a formidable track record in helping its portfolio companies grow internationally, particularly in the US, a key market in our growth plans,” said Massimiliano Pogliani, CEO of illycaffè. “In addition to Rhône’s partnership approach to investing, I truly welcome their contribution to illycaffè’s Board thanks to Rhône’s proven expertise in supporting the implementation of the strategic plans and particularly the initiatives related to digital transformation, a key strategic lever within illy’s plans and a capability that is becoming increasingly relevant in the current business environment.”
Robert Agostinelli, Co-Founder and Managing Director at Rhône said: “We are honored to have been chosen by Andrea Illy and the rest of his family as their partner to support them in their long-term international strategic objectives. illycaffè is a standard bearer of how multi-generational family ownership can shepherd and enhance a sterling brand identity across the globe. We were drawn to the quality of illy’s underlying business, their approach to value creation, and their impeccable ethical standards, which are reflected in both their corporate governance and commitment to sustainability.”
Gianpiero Lenza, Managing Director at Rhône said: “We believe that our respect for Andrea Illy and his family’s brand, and the business they have built over the years, along with our tradition of being trusted stewards of family-owned, international businesses, make us an ideal partner in supporting illy in its next, important phase of growth. We have been impressed by the quality and leadership of Massimiliano Pogliani and his management team, who have positioned illy to expand and strengthen its premium brand in multiple channels. We look forward to partnering with them, the Illy family and the Board to support them in this journey.”
Completion of the transaction is expected to take place by the end of the first quarter of 2021 subject to customary regulatory approvals.
illycaffè has been advised in this transaction by Goldman Sachs International, Studio Sabelli Benazzo and by Studio Gattai, Minoli, Agostinelli and Partners. Rhône has been advised by Credit Suisse, Chiomenti Studio Legale and Paolo Montironi.
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illycaffè is an Italian family business, founded in Trieste in 1933 and committed to offering the greatest coffee to the world. illy is the world's most global coffee brand, producing the unique illy 100% Arabica blend made of 9 of the world ‘s best selections of Arabica; each day more than 8 million cups are consumed in over 140 countries in the finest cafés, restaurants, hotels and in offices and homes. illy has become the standard forerunner of espresso, and thanks to three critical innovations, is considered the leader in the science and technology of coffee. With the bestowing of the first “Ernesto Illy Award for quality espresso coffee” in 1991 in Brazil, illy also pioneered direct sourcing, sharing know-how and paying a premium price for the best quality, based on partnerships underwritten by the principles of sustainable development. The company also founded its University of Coffee with the aim of fostering and spreading its culture, providing comprehensive academic and hands-on training for coffee growers, baristas and coffee lovers in order to cover every aspect of the product. Everything ‘made in illy’ is enhanced by beauty & art, which represent founding values of the brand, starting from its logo – designed by an artist, James Rosenquist – and including the renowned illy Art Collection, comprised of over 100 cups designed by international artists. In 2019 the company was employing 1,405 people and posted consolidated revenues of €520,5 million. There are 269 stores and mono-brand illy shops in more than 40 countries.
Rhône, established in 1996, is a global private equity firm with a focus on investments in businesses with pan-European, North American or transatlantic presence. Rhône’s investment philosophy includes the development of strong, strategic partnerships with the companies in which it invests. Rhône has a strong history of working with family-owned businesses and operates across its London, New York and Madrid offices. Rhône has invested in a diversified portfolio of companies including investments in the business services, consumer, and industrial sectors.