Unilever Receives Binding Offer from Sill Entreprises for its Liquid Soups Business in France

Unilever, the British-Dutch consumer goods giant, has announced that it has received a binding offer from Sill Entreprises, a French food and drink group, to acquire its Knorr liquid soups business in France. The deal, if finalized, would see Sill Entreprises take over the production and distribution of Knorr’s liquid soups in the French market.

The Details of the Offer and the Transaction

The financial details of the offer have not been disclosed by either party, and Unilever declined to comment on the expected timeline of the transaction. However, Unilever said that the offer was subject to consultation with the relevant employee representatives and regulatory approvals.

The transaction would not affect the other products sold under the Knorr brand in France, such as stock cubes and pots, gravies, instant soups and pasta, which would remain under Unilever’s ownership and management. Unilever also said that it was still “very committed to supporting” Knorr in France and globally.

Sill Entreprises, which was founded in 1962 in Brittany, France, is a family-owned group that operates in various segments of the food and drink industry, such as dairy, frozen, and plant-based products. The group already has a presence in the French liquid soups market with its La Potagère brand, which offers organic and vegetarian soups.

Sill Entreprises
Sill Entreprises

Sill Entreprises also has an existing partnership with Unilever, which started in 2022, to produce some of Knorr’s liquid soups at its plant in Plouvien, Brittany. The group said that the proposed acquisition would enable it to consolidate and develop its positions in the liquid soup market in France and in the plant-based sector, which are part of its strategic vision.

The Rationale and the Implications of the Deal

The deal, if completed, would mark the end of Unilever’s presence in the liquid soups segment in France, which has been declining in recent years due to changing consumer preferences and competition. Unilever closed its Duppigheim soup plant in north-eastern France in 2021, citing a drop in demand for its ready-made soups and sauces.

The deal would also reflect Unilever’s strategy to focus on its core categories and brands, and to divest or spin off its non-core or underperforming businesses. Unilever has recently sold its tea business in North America and Australia, its Bertolli olive oil and vinegar business in Europe, and its ice cream business in Chile. It has also announced plans to separate its beauty and personal care unit into a standalone entity.

The deal would also benefit Sill Entreprises, which would gain access to a well-known and established brand in the French liquid soups market, as well as to Unilever’s distribution network and customer base. Sill Entreprises said that it would integrate Knorr’s liquid soups into its portfolio of activities, and that it would remain faithful to its values of offering healthy, balanced, gourmet, and sustainable food products to consumers.

The deal would also demonstrate the cooperation and trust between Unilever and Sill Entreprises, which have been working together for two years. Both parties said that they would continue to collaborate and support each other in the future, and that they would ensure a smooth transition for the employees, customers, and suppliers involved in the transaction.

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