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Swiss Trader Sucafina to Buy Supplier to U.K. Costa Coffee Chain

Isis Almeida
·2 min read

(Bloomberg) -- Swiss coffee trader Sucafina SA is pressing ahead with expansion plans, striking a deal to buy a majority stake in a U.K. merchant known for supplying Costa Coffee.

Sucafina bought a 75% stake in Complete Coffee Ltd., a seller to the British coffee chain that’s now owned by Coca-Cola Co., said Nicolas Tamari, Sucafina’s chief executive officer. The merchant is also the preferred partner of the Colombian Coffee Federation for instant coffee sales in the U.K.

The move is part of Sucafina’s expansion plans and gives the Swiss company a foothold in the U.K., which has a large market for instant coffee. Sucafina has been growing its business in recent years, getting its first $300 million syndicated loan from banks in 2017. It recently opened offices in China, Indonesia and India, as well as expanded its North American team.

“We want to keep growing,” Tamari said in a phone interview Tuesday. “We want to do similar partnerships to this one in other geographies.”

Complete Coffee was founded as Alan J. Ridge & Co. Ltd. in 1929 and merged with Ernest A. Breminer Ltd. in 1943. The Breminer family will keep a 25% stake and Ian Breminer will continue to lead the firm as executive chairman. Cory Bush, who leads Sucafina’s European specialty business, will be managing director.

Smaller Traders Struggle

The acquisition comes at a time smaller traders are struggling to keep afloat as coffee roasters require ever-increasing payment terms. European banks have also become more wary of lending to commodity traders, which many expect will lead to consolidation.

“It had become more and more difficult for small- and medium-sized companies,” Breminer said by phone Tuesday. “We wanted to continue the business and we found in Sucafina a stronger partner with the same beliefs.”

“We’ve always wanted to work on behalf of farmers because that’s the only way the coffee market can survive, and we found the right partner,” he said.

Sucafina plans to expand Complete Coffee, hiring more people throughout the year, Tamari said. While the newly acquired company currently handles international business, it will focus on the U.K. market going forward.

The Geneva-based trader isn’t alone in investing in the U.K. In 2019, Volcafe Ltd. entered the British market, opening an office in Bristol.

(A previous version of this story corrected the spelling of executive’s name in the fifth paragraph)

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