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Equistone to invest in Charles & Alice alongside management and CM-CIC Capital Finance

01 Aug 2013

Equistone Partners Europe Limited, one of Europe’s leading mid-market private equity managers, today announces that Equistone Partners Europe Fund IV (“EPEF IV”) will invest in the Charles & Alice Group (“Charles & Alice”, “the Group”), a well-known French manufacturer of fruit desserts. The transaction signed today is part of a secondary MBO alongside CM-CIC Capital Finance, shareholder since 2007, and the current management team led by President Thierry Goubault.

The origins of the Group began with Vaucluse-based Charles Faraud, which specialises in fruit processing and is a leader in delivering fruit and vegetable-based products for the food service sector. In 2007, Thierry Goubault became President of Charles Faraud with CM-CIC Capital Finance becoming the majority shareholder. In 2010, Charles Faraud acquired Hero France, a specialist manufacturer of fruit desserts without added sugar and baby food products, based in the Drôme orchards. The new group was renamed Charles & Alice, a new brand for its range of fruit desserts. 

The Group employs 350 people across two production sites, the first in Allex in Drôme and the second in Monteux in the Vaucluse. In 2012, Charles & Alice generated turnover of €120m. 

Charles & Alice has established itself as a leading producer of fruit desserts. The Group is well known for the quality and innovation of its product ranges, and for its commitment to the environment. In 2000, Charles & Alice launched one of the first ranges of desserts with no added sugar, and in 2009 created an organic range which uses 100% French fruits, following an agreement with three growers in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region to plant eight hectares of organic apple orchards. 

With EPEF IV’s investment, Charles & Alice plans to accelerate its growth both in France and abroad. Charles & Alice has also raised additional finance from CIC Mezzanine, alongside its pool of traditional bank lenders.  

The deal, which is subject to approval by competition authorities, is expected to complete in September. 

Thierry Goubault, President of Charles & Alice Group, commented: “In addition to increasing the management’s investment in the business to over 20%, this deal will give Charles & Alice a major international investor which will be able to support the acceleration of our growth. We also extend our thanks to CM-CIC Capital Finance, who first partnered with our business in 2007, and has supported us ever since, notably for the merger with Hero France.” 

Frédéric Plas, Director at CM-CIC Capital Finance, added: “It has been six years since we initially invested in Charles & Alice, and in that time Thierry and the management have grown the business substantially. Seizing opportunities for growth and reaching out to new investors have been our strategic priorities, in order to create the best possible future opportunity across their markets. CM-CIC Capital Finance supports entrepreneurs and their businesses in the long term; as such it was an obvious choice to continue to support Thierry Goubault in this venture.” 

Guillaume Jacqueau, Managing Partner of Equistone Partners Europe Limited, concluded: “Charles & Alice is a truly innovative business built around strong values. We are pleased to be able to help grow such an innovative entrepreneurial business, which has pursued national and international growth whilst still supporting the local economy. This is the twelfth investment from EPEF IV, and perfectly illustrates our commitment to helping quality management teams achieve success.”

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