Italian dairy group Granarolo has announced its entry into France via the acquisition of French cheesemaker CIPF Codipal for an undisclosed fee.

Granarolo said yesterday (10 January) it will acquire CIPF Codipal from holding firm Compagnie du Forum in a deal that will add around EUR100m of sales to the Italian co-operative’s current business.

The firm will take an initial majority shareholding in February, and plans to acquire full ownership in April 2014.

The move gives Granarolo a foothold in France, opening up a new front against French-owned Italian rival, Parmalat, as well as expanding the firm’s international business via a greater presence in cheese. CIPF Codipal specialises in Italian cheeses and has a siginificant presence in France’s private label market.

Granarolo said that, following the acquisition, cheese will account for 40% of its sales, versus 18% in 2011. Group chairman Gianpiero Calzolari said the deal is of “great importance” to the group’s plan to increase its international presence, as part of its strategic plan up to 2016.