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Belgium’s Lotus Bakeries has taken full control of a joint venture in Italy set up in 2019 with distribution partner Lona.

Lotus did not provide specific details on the holdings or terms but said it was already the majority owner of the Lotus Bakeries Italia venture from its incarnation, with the aim to “focus exclusively on marketing Lotus Bakeries’ brands”.

The manufacturer of waffles and snack bars, spreads and ice cream, said it has established a new office in Milan from where the company’s teams will seek to “further strengthen its position in the Italian market”.

CEO Jan Boone added: “With this acquisition of full control over our entity in Italy, we’re taking our next step in this major consumer market. With the necessary focus and support from the rest of the group, a team of local Lotus Bakeries’ employees based in our office in Milan will be able to take the next steps to increase market penetration in this country.”

Lotus is the owner of the Biscoff brand of waffles and has expanded the range of its portfolio through M&A. It is now the majority owner of UK-based Natural Balance Foods, which operates under the company’s Natural Foods business unit making the Nakd and Trek snack bars. It also purchased another UK firm Urban Fresh Foods and the Bear snacks brand.

A spokesperson for Lotus confirmed the Italian business mainly focuses on Biscoff and at present is only an operation amounting to a “couple of million euros” in revenues with a “very low penetration”, but with plans to expand. Lona specialised in the out-of-home sector, a feature of the joint venture, but also retail, which is now a key area for Lotus’ expansion in Italy.

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Lotus does not have a manufacturing plant in Italy, with goods shipped over from Belgium, the spokesperson said.

This year, Lotus has taken a minority stake in US allergen-free biscuit maker Partake Foods through its FF2032 venture-capital fund launched in 2019. The fund has previously invested in UK-based sour dough crispbread maker Peter’s Yard, along with US business Love Brands, which owns the Love Corn line of snacks.  

Lotus also announced in February it was investing in its US plant in North Carolina and a Belgium facility in Courcelles to cater to increased demand for its Biscoff waffles.