Asahi Beverages has made a move into the $1 billion fresh coffee market with the purchase of premium fresh coffee business, Allpress Espresso.

Asahi Beverages Group CEO Robert Iervasi told C&I that coffee is a category that the business has been looking into for some time and that Asahi will now be able to offer the Allpress Iced Coffee RTD format to the petrol and convenience channel.

“When you look at our broader portfolio of brands, across our alcohol and non-alcohol business in Australia and New Zealand, we are really pleased that we can now add a coffee offering across hot coffee, as well as ready-to-drink coffee to our customers and consumers and make sure we are meeting their needs going forward,” Iervasi said.

“In terms of our specific plans on how we will get Allpress Iced Coffee into the petrol and convenience channel, we plan to run Allpress as a standalone business. When opportunities are available for our customers who might be interested in ranging the Allpress products, ensuring that we have that available as part of our portfolio of products, is what Asahi Beverages brings to the table and we can support Allpress in that endeavour going forward.

“Allpress is our first entrance into the coffee category, and we’re pleased that CEO Vaughan Magnusson and his management team have agreed to support us and continue with Asahi Beverages and really take the role of building our coffee credentials and capabilities across Oceania as we look to grow the Allpress coffee brand.”

Allpress was founded in New Zealand by Michael Allpress in 1989, and expanded into Australia with the help of Michael’s friend and business partner Tony Papas in 2000. The business now sells more than 1500 tonnes of coffee beans annually worldwide – around 120 million cups – to boutique cafes and restaurants and this will grow under Asahi Beverages’ ownership.

“The Allpress business model is very similar to what we have here in Oceania, in that it is direct-to-consumer, it supplies equipment for hot coffee, such as coffee machines. But equally it is also a brand that has strong brand equity and one that we feel we can grow in the local market,” Iervasi said.

He added: “Michael Allpress and I have been quite instrumental in the deal and what Michael saw in Asahi was someone who could actually look after the brand in the longer term, given our investment focus on longer term credentials and we very quickly had a meeting of the minds there.

“In terms of Michael’s excitement about selling to Asahi and continuing to support us, we’ll continue to work with Michael over the coming period of time as really someone who is quite passionate about the brand and a brand ambassador, so we expect to continue to support each other as we bring the acquisition to life, post completion.”

Allpress CEO Vaughan Magnusson told C&I that from their perspective the time was right to sell the business, and that Asahi felt like the right fit.

“Our shareholders are entering their sixties and they started thinking about a move like a couple of years ago, so this is just a natural next step to look to pass on the baton,” he said.

“We are really delighted to find a good home for Allpress, we have long-admired Asahi and their house of brands, so this is exciting for us. As a management team and as group shareholders we were very focused on getting a good home, and one that presented good opportunities for the business to continue to grow and opportunities for staff to grow as well.

“We are really delighted, it’s a good brand fit and will sit well in the Asahi house of brands. We are really pleased that we are the only coffee brand, we think we will get special treatment, so we see a really bright future for the business under Asahi’s ownership.”

In terms of innovation, Magnusson told C&I that Allpress has always been at the forefront of innovation and will continue along that path.

“Our RTD products were only released fairly recently, and we feel like we’re just really getting started in that space. We’re definitely interested in growing in the RTD market and Asahi obviously has huge experience in that distribution channel.

“Allpress has always been an innovation company. We were the first in New Zealand to start hot air roasting, which is a key to the flavour of our coffee in terms of getting an even roast. It produces a great flavour and has given us that consistency, which we’ve built a great brand on.

“We’ve always innovated, and we’ll keep innovating, so watch this space.”

Asahi has confirmed that the deal will be complete at the end of May and that the jobs for the more than 240 full-time employees at Allpress are all safe.

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