India’s Britannia Industries Limited announced on Tuesday (29) that it has entered into a joint venture (JV) with French cheesemaker Bel to help consumers in the South Asian nation get nutritious and accessible cheese products.
As per the agreement, Bel will acquire a 49 per cent stake in Britannia’s wholly owned subsidiary Britannia Dairy. The entity will thereafter be known as Britannia Bel Foods.
India’s Economic Times reported that Bel will acquire the state in Britannia Dairy for Rs 262 crore (£26.1 million) and then infuse an additional Rs 215 crore (£21.4 million) in the JV.
As per an official statement, the production will take place at the JV’s new facility in Ranjangaon in the western Indian state of Maharashtra, located around 186 kilometres south-west of capital Mumbai, which is backward-integrated to collect milk from local farmers.
The cheese products will be co-branded using the trademarks ‘Britannia’ and ‘The Laughing Cow’ and will be introduced under the fast-growing cheese category in the country.
Abhishek Sinha, chief business officer, Britannia Dairy, has been appointed as the JV’s chief executive.
Varun Berry, executive vice-chairman and managing director, Britannia Industries, said, “Britannia’s partnership with Bel Group will enable consumers to enjoy international quality cheese products that will now be made in India. This JV will help the milk farmers of Maharashtra gain consistent and greater market access through our yield-optimised milk collection initiative, which has grown significantly over the last three years.”
He also said that cheese is an under-penetrated category and the partnership would help in expanding the nascent but fast-growing cheese category by means of delivering innovative products and providing leadership in fulfilling the evolving needs of the consumer.
According to him, the JV is key to Britannia’s vision to become a responsible, total foods company.
Cécile Béliot, CEO, Bel Group, said, “This strategic partnership with Britannia in India is a new step for Bel Group’s development in Asia, in line with our mission to deliver healthier and more responsible food for all. Thanks to this joint venture, we will accelerate in India, after four years of presence in ‘start-up mode’ which had enabled us to confirm the relevance and the potential of our product offers.”
She added, “We are proud to partner with Britannia. They have an emblematic brand in India and a powerful distribution system. By combining their expertise with our iconic brand The Laughing Cow, and our know-how and knowledge of cheese products, this joint venture is well positioned to offer to all Indian consumers delicious, nutritious and accessible cheese products, and become a leader in the fast-growing Indian cheese market.”
According to a report by Indian financial daily Mint, the Wadia Group-backed Britannia Industries touched a new 52-week high on Tuesday tracking broad-based buying in FMCG stocks. It climbed by more than two per cent and crossed the Rs 4,300 (£43) mark.
Britannia Industries posted 28 percent year-on-year (YoY) growth in consolidated net profit at Rs 490 crore (£49 million) for the quarter ended September while consolidated revenue from operations went up by 21 per cent YoY to Rs 4,379.61 crore (£437.2 million).