Blog: Dean BestFrench dairy boss milks independence

Dean Best | 2 April 2008

Some bullish words are emerging from a section of the French milk sector.

The family behind Senoble, the independent dairy firm that makes a swathe of own-label dairy products for French retailers, has taken back full control of the company.

Private equity firm 3i has sold its 25% stake in the business to the Senoble family, which four years ago opened up its capital to generate funds for international expansion.

For the Senoble family and 3i, it’s a case of job done. International sales accounted for just a quarter of Senoble’s turnover in 2004 – now overseas markets generate over half of the firm’s business.

Marc Senoble, the company’s CEO, exuded Gallic confidence in the wake of the deal and insisted his company’s reputation stands up well against larger rivals in the French dairy sector.

“While I can only congratulate myself for having chosen 3i, you are never more credible in the eyes of the major retailing groups than when you are independent,” Senoble said.

But, with the dairy sector going through a wave of consolidation (witness the moves at French co-op Sodiaal and Dutch firms Friesland Foods and Campina), how long will Senoble last on its own?

Especially, let’s not forget, with Danone on its doorstep.


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