Strategic partnership: Unilever sells Dutch facility to Zwanenberg

By Nathan Gray

- Last updated on GMT

iStock / pichet_w
iStock / pichet_w

Related tags Netherlands

Unilever says a new strategic partnership with Zwanenberg Food Group (ZFG) will see the firm buy a Dutch production facility, however the factory will continue to manufacture products for key Unilever brands including Unox, Knorr and Bertolli.

The facility at Oss in the south of the Netherlands currently produces meat, sauces and canned soups for Unilever brands including Bertolli, Knorr and Unox.

Under the partnership, ZFG will buy the factory, however it will continue to produce Unilever products. ZFG says it also plans to relocate around 18,000 tons of its own canned meat production to the factory in 2019, leading to a 50% increase in volume at the factory. As a result, the factory will become the biggest in Zwanenberg’s network.

Under the deal, all trademarks and recipes remain the property of Unilever and Unilever also remains responsible for the marketing and sales of the brands. While any increases in production at the facility by ZFG are at its own expense.

Indeed, both companies said the deal would lead to further growth of the Unilever brands and will also lead to a 20% increase in employment.

“Unox is and remains a very important brand to Unilever in the Netherlands,”​ said Unilever Benelux general manager Conny Braams. “The decision to embark on a strategic partnership with Zwanenberg has been taken with the sole purpose to accelerate the brand’s growth.”

“We expect to achieve substantial benefits as a result of the capitalisation of our joint scale in Oss. In addition, the fact that Unox will be able to use both the innovative and investment power of Zwanenberg enhances the growth possibilities of the brand. Hence, the partnership with Zwanenberg is the best choice for a healthy future for the factory, its employees and the Unox brand.”

Also commenting on the deal, Aldo van der Laan, chairman Zwanenberg Food Group, said the acquisition of the plant fits into the strategy of ZFG to further develop the business and grow a wider range of foods, with the focus on long-life products. 

Zwanenberg already has twelve production sites in the Netherlands (seven), the UK (three) and the United States (two). The firm sells its products under various brand names, including Zwanenberg Kips, Kraak-Vers and Huls. 

“ZFG sees it also as an opportunity to position in soups and sauces that they currently mainly in the UK and the US, now also extend to the Netherlands and the rest of the European continent,”​ said van der Laan.

The deal will now be submitted for approval to the Dutch Authority for Consumers and Markets.

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