Ital Passion, a France-based supplier and importer of food products from Italy, has attracted investment from private-equity firms Arkéa Capital and Azulis Capital.

Roberto Mengozzi, the founder of Monaco-based Ital Passion, will remain the company’s majority shareholder after selling an undisclosed stake in the business to the two buyout houses.

As well as acting as an importer and distributor, Ital Passion also markets food under its own brands, including Florelli for sauces, antipasti, breadsticks and oils, Toscoro for vinegars and Artesani for pasta). In 2018, Ital Passion generated sales of “almost EUR50m (US$55m)”, according to a statement announcing the transaction, which also said the firm wanted to use the investment to “accelerate its development in France and abroad”.

Mengozzi added: “I have been sensitive to the professionalism and dynamism of the teams of Azulis Capital and Arkéa Capital, their knowledge of the issues of agribusiness will allow us to continue our development in the years to come on the universe of Italian products. The quality and reliability of our products, our dedicated sales teams, our new brand platform are all strengths to achieve our goals in the short and medium term.”

Arkéa Capital, based near Brest in north-western France, is a backer of a number agri-food companies, including fish and ready-meals supplier Groupe Le Graët, bread and pizza-base maker Novepan and dairy business Sill Enterprises.

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By GlobalData

Of the investment in Ital Passion, Cyril Miller, regional director at Arkéa Capital, said: “The prospect of supporting this demanding company over the long term is a great satisfaction, and fits perfectly with the positioning of Arkéa Capital, a patient investor involved with SMEs and high-potential regional ETIs [or intermediate-sized enterprises, an official designation for businesses in France of companies larger than SMEs].”

Azulis Capital is also an investor in Novepan. Its previous moves in food have included investments in Mademoiselle Desserts and ingredients group Savena.

Pierre Jourdain, Azulis Capital’s chairman, said: “Roberto Mengozzi and his team have been able to meet a strong expectation of French consumers looking for typical products of Italian cuisine based on their intimate knowledge of food SMEs from the peninsula and Sicily. We are convinced that Ital Passion still has a strong development potential by continuing to expand its sourcing, by offering new products adapted to French tastes and by strengthening its presence in the various distribution channels.”