Ferrero’s move to buy Delacre is to be examined by competition officials, snacks giant Pladis, the owner of the Belgian biscuit maker, has confirmed.

What the Italian confectionery giant calls a “Ferrero-affiliated entity” has made an offer to buy Delacre and the bid is now being looked at by anti-trust officials.

“The relevant worker council consultations have been completed and the offer is now subject to a competition review in line with standard procedures and steps for a transaction of this nature,” Pladis, the UK-based biscuits and chocolate arm of Turkish food group Yildiz Holding, told just-food today (7 November).

Ferrero tabled its bid to buy Delacre this summer. The owner of brands including Kinder, Nutella and Ferrero Rocher had not returned a request for comment at the time of writing.

When Ferrero’s offer for Delacre was announced, analysts at Euromonitor suggested the Italy-based company was looking to reduce its “over-reliance” on chocolate. Euromonitor also suggested Ferrero had been seeing its sales come under pressure in some of its largest markets.

“While Ferrero’s portfolio momentum has been going strong in the UK, the US and China, sales have suffered in Germany, Italy and France, which together account for 41% of the company’s packaged food revenue. As a result, the company has been investing in markets with higher potential such as China, the UK and the US. In western Europe, the price gap between premium mass players such as Ferrero and store-based premium players like Godiva and Hotel Chocolatier is narrowing. Delacre is a relatively safer bet for Ferrero as the company specialises in premium biscuits which has obvious synergies with chocolate and complements Ferrero’s image as a premium player,” Euromonitor senior food analyst Pinar Hosafci said.

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“Delacre also has a store in Belgium aiding Ferrero’s goal of store-based expansion as seen both by the take-over of store-based Thorntons and the growing number of Nutella cafés which are popping up very quickly in the Middle Eastern markets. While the majority of Delacre’s sales stem from Belgium and France, the brand is also present in the US and Canada. This holds a strategic opportunity for Ferrero, which has been struggling to increase its footprint in North America in the face of the strong competition from Lindt, which has doubled its revenue within less than five years to reach 9% of the chocolate market in 2015, and Godiva, which – unlike in western Europe – is sold in mass retailers in the US including Walmart. By bringing its chocolate-based innovation to the biscuits category, Ferrero could use Delacre as a tool to crack open the North American market which to date still remains the world’s uncontested leader in snacks.”