Illy moves into tea business

Mon, 03/05/2007 - 06:03

Italy's Illy coffee group has expanded into the tea business with the acquisition of a majority stake in the French company Dammann Freres, a company statement said on Friday.

Illy has initially picked up 55% of the company but by the end of May expects to hold 75%.

The rest of the company belongs to the Jumeau-Lafond family, which has owned the brand for the past three generations.

According to Illy, the acquisition is in line with the group's long-term development strategy in the grocery business and represents a return to the Illy family's past, when in the 1930s it was a general grocery concern before specialising in coffee.

Dammann Freres was the first company to introduce tea to France in 1692 and the first to produce, in the 1950s, naturally flavored teas.

Today it produces regular and speciality teas for the household as well as hotels, cafes and restaurants.

Illy's acquisition of a majority stake in Dammann, it already had a minority interest, follows is purchase last July of an 80% stake in Domori, which producers high quality chocolate, and a 40% interest in Agrimonte, a leader in the production of top pastry and baked goods.