Arla seals deal to acquire Swedish premium cheese brand Falbygdens

By Mark ASTLEY contact

- Last updated on GMT

Arla seals deal to acquire Swedish premium cheese brand Falbygdens

Related tags: Trade union, Denmark

Arla Foods has agreed to acquire Swedish premium cheese brand Falbygdens from Finnish food firm Atria for an undisclosed sum.

Under the deal, which is subject to Swedish Competition Authority approval, Arla will acquire the Falbygdens cheese brand and factory in Falköping, where, interestingly, no cheese is actually manufactured.

Falbygdens brand cheese is instead procured in Sweden and either flavoured, to produce items such as Whisky Cheddar, or packed at the Falköping factory.

Cheese is also imported from countries, including France, Italy, Switzerland, and Spain - some of which is sold under the Falbygdens brand.

The proposed takeover, unveiled by Arla earlier today, is "in line"​ with the European dairy cooperative's ambitions in the premium cheese segment, said Henri de Sauvage, executive vice president, Arla Foods Sweden.

"What we want to do is increase our interest in specialty cheese,"​ de Sauvage told DairyReporter.com.

"This acquisition is a strategic complement to our specialty cheese business in Sweden, as we are a very small player in the segment at the moment."

"Good combination"

The sale, which will allow current owner Atria to focus on its "core" ​meat business in Sweden, will close on January 7 2015 at the earliest, said Arla.

Until Swedish Competition Authority approval is granted, the company "will abstain from commercial statements about the future," ​said de Sauvage.

He said, however, that it hopes through the acquisition to "create one of the best specialty cheese businesses in Sweden."

"Arla intends to build up its specialty cheese business, globally and in Sweden," ​said de Sauvage. "Falbygdens is a strong brand, and it has the right skills in sales, marketing, and production."

"It's a positive move for everyone involved."

Union talks

If the takeover is approved by the Swedish Competition Authority, Arla said it will enter talks with local trade union representatives.

Around 100 people are employed at Falbygdens' Falköping site.

None of these 100 jobs will, however, be at risk if Arla's acquisition is completed, de Sauvage guaranteed.

"We informed the union and asked for their approval. We want to keep them happy."

Consultations will be held with local union representatives, but to discuss business restructure, not job cuts, de Sauvage said.

Related topics: Manufacturers, Arla Foods, Cheese

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