Anglo-Dutch consumer goods behemoth Unilever has entered into an agreement to acquire Romanian ice cream producer Betty Ice for an undisclosed amount.
Betty Ice was founded in 1994 and has since risen to occupy the top spot for ice cream in the eastern European country, with revenues of EUR30m (US$37.4m).
The company has a production facility in the north-eastern city of Suceava and employs 760 people. It operates 180 ice cream kiosks during the summer.
Unilever markets ice cream in Romania under global brands including Cornetto and Big Milk and local brand Napoca but does not have local production.
Should the deal be approved by Romania’s competition authorities, Unilever said today (31 January) its south central Europe ice cream division and Betty Ice will combine into a single unit led by the latter’s founder Vasile Armenean, who will serve as general manager of the business.
Unilever is already the world’s biggest ice cream producer with brands such as Cornetto, Magnum and Ben & Jerry’s. Last summer, the company bought Australia’s Weis, whose ice cream brands include Streets.
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James Simmons, managing director for Unilever’s operations in south central Europe, said: “We are delighted that Betty Ice will join the Unilever family. Betty Ice is a wonderful business, much loved by Romanians.”
Simmons welcomed Armenean to the new set-up, adding “he is an outstanding entrepreneur and he will play an instrumental role in creating a bright future for this new business”.
Armenean said: “In 23 years we have grown a great business in Romania, and we are proud that Betty Ice, the number one Romanian ice cream brand, will join the portfolio of the number one ice cream producer in the world. Our legacy and Unilever’s vision are a perfect match for the future of [the] Betty Ice brand.”
Unilever is due to announce its 2017 financial results tomorrow. During last year, the company saw pressure on its ice-cream business in the US from new competitor Halo Top.
In October, Unilever reported falling underlying volumes from its refreshment division, from where it runs its ice cream and beverage interests, and admitted Halo Top had impacted its sales in North America.