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March 31, 2021updated 06 Apr 2021 6:31pm

French baker Cerelia hits US M&A trail with double deal announcement

French bakery company Cérélia has revealed it has made two acquisitions in the US, whilst also selling a stake in the business to an American investor.

By Leonie Barrie

French bakery company Cérélia has revealed it has made two acquisitions in the US, snapping up pancake firm US Waffle and the pizza dough business of Wewalka.

Cérélia, owned by French private-investment house Ardian, has also announced it has received “strategic investment” from food-industry investor, the Continental Grain Company (CGC).

The company said the acquisitions are part of plans to accelerate its North American strategy, which also includes the “addition of fast-growing products, advanced production capabilities and new strategic partnerships”.

As its name suggests, South Carolina-based US Waffle specialises in the production of pancakes and waffles, supporting “some of North America’s largest brands with on-trend products”.

Cérélia told just-food it operates as a co-manufacturer, supplies private-label products and serves the foodservice channel.

It said the company has “remarkable production and distribution capabilities”, adding its purchase provides an entry point to the US breakfast category.

Alongside US Waffle, Cérélia recently acquired Wewalka’s North American pizza-dough business, which it says will be able to utilise the French company’s “new state-of-the-art facility” in Ohio, announced last year.

Wewalka supplies pizza dough to US retailers.

Cérélia suggests these acquisitions, combined with the new production and distribution capabilities “position Cérélia as one of North America’s fastest-growing bakery businesses”.

Walter Kluit, co-CEO of Cérélia, said: “With a proven track record of innovation and quality, we are confident that US Waffle will accelerate our expansion in North America. 

“By leveraging Cérélia’s entrepreneurial spirit, industrial technology and experienced team, we plan to introduce new, innovative products and extend our presence in new channels and territories.”

Christopher Sand, managing director at Cérélia parent Ardian Buyout, added: “The US Waffle transaction both solidifies our strategic roadmap and underscores the strength of our partnership with the Cérélia team.”

Cérélia has not disclosed the financial details of these acquisitions and nor has it said how much New York-based CGC has invested in the business or the size of its “minority” stake.

It revealed the investment was made earlier this month and comes after almost two years of dialogue. It said CGC and Cérélia plan to work together on a number of initiatives to strengthen existing operations and accelerate growth.

Guillaume Réveilhac, co-CEO and president of Cérélia, said: “We couldn’t be happier to bring CGC into Cérélia as an equity investor. Through our years of dialogue, we have developed a mutual respect for each other’s unique capabilities and believe that the partnership will strengthen Cérélia’s existing business and provide us with new opportunities to extend our reach into new products and geographies.”

Paul Fribourg, chairman and CEO of CGC, said: “We have been very impressed watching the team, with Ardian’s assistance, grow the business over the last two years in both Europe and North America. 

“We believe that Cérélia has developed an excellent platform on which to continue its remarkable growth and we look forward to supporting the company in executing its strategic vision.”

Fribourg will join the Cérélia supervisory board as an observer.

Cérélia, the owner of brands such as Pop Bakery and Jan, entered the US and Canadian markets in 2017 through the acquisition of English Bay Batter, which has facilities in Vancouver, Toronto and Columbus. 

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