Food giant Unilever has taken its first steps into the Bulgarian ice cream market by purchasing the country’s second largest in the sector.
Unilever South Central Europe will acquire Bulgarian company Darko, which is owned by the Balkan Accession Fund.
“Darko is a valuable acquisition for us, having well known brands and a well-established position in the market,” said Marc Desenfans, Unilever South Central Europe’s chairman.
“We will use the strength of the current business and Unilever’s global leadership in this category to further consolidate our position in the Balkan region,” he added.
The acquisition will include Darko’s ice cream brands such as Eskimo, Casablanca, Weekend, Magic Ice, Free, Belinda, Alaska, and Milka as well as the firm’s distribution network and production unit.
Unilever did not reveal the value of the acquisition.
In 2010, the turnover of Darko’s ice cream category was BGN13.8m (Є7m), according to Unilever.
As part of the agreement, approximately 80 employees will transfer to Unilever.
Darko will keep its existing production staff and warehousing facilities, it will also continue to manufacture the current Darko ice cream branded products for the Bulgarian market, said Unilever.
The agreement is subject to regulatory approval by the Bulgarian competition authorities.
Hungarian and Turkish investments
The firm also recently announced plans to invest in its Hungarian and Turkish ice cream plants.
Last month, Unilever said it was investing HUF2.2bn (€8m) in its ice cream factory in Hungary in order to build a new updated cold storage space at the facility.
The plant makes three-quarters of all Algida brand ice cream products, according to the Budapest Business Journal (BBJ), with more than 90 per cent of output being exported to Western Europe.
Earlier this year, the firm revealed other plans to double production at its Turkish ice cream plant which also manufacturers Unilever’s Algida brand.
According to the firm, Algida Turkey has become the world leader in Algida’s global impulse ice cream category.
Unilever said Algida has already invested a total of €450m into the Turkish ice cream market in the last 20 years.
The firm said investments will also be put towards building a second ice cream plant in Konya, Turkey, with an initial cost of around $100m.