Campbell Soup Company (NYSE:CPB) announced today that it has entered into an agreement to acquire Kelsen Group A/S from Maj Invest, a private equity firm, and several other investors. Based in Nørre Snede, Denmark, Kelsen is a producer of quality baked snacks that are sold in 85 countries around the world. Its primary brands include Kjeldsens and Royal Dansk. Kelsen has established distribution networks in markets in Asia, South America, the Middle East and Africa as well as the United States. It is a market leader in the assortment segment of the sweet biscuits category in China and Hong Kong, where growth in sweet biscuits is outpacing the growth of the $60 billion global sweet biscuits market.
Kelsen has been exporting premium Danish butter cookies to China for more than twenty years. Its Kjeldsens brand has strong awareness with retailers and consumers in major cities, and its sales in China have grown at a compound rate exceeding 28 percent in the last three years. The company generated DKK 1.043 billion ($180 million) in net sales for the year ended Dec. 31, 2012. Aggregate net sales have grown at a compound double-digit rate since 2009. Kelsen employs 366 people worldwide.
Denise Morrison, Campbell’s President and Chief Executive Officer, said, “We are delighted to welcome the Kelsen team to Campbell and to add Kelsen’s distinctive brands to Campbell’s outstanding portfolio of baked snacks, including our Pepperidge Farm cookies and crackers in North America and Arnott’s biscuits in Australia. Kelsen will give Campbell a solid platform for growth in baked snacks in China and for the expansion of our international footprint. The acquisition of this successful business is another important step in Campbell’s quest to delight new consumers through expansion into higher-growth spaces, including fast-growing emerging markets.”
Campbell plans to operate Kelsen as a standalone business based in Denmark, reporting to Luca Mignini, President – Campbell International.