Pasta and baked goods group Barilla has announced the sale of its Scandinavian biscuit subsidiaries Lieken Urkorn and Kornkammer to the German group Grabower, which makes waffles and sweet biscuits.
Barilla was obliged to sell the two units in order to win EU approval for its takeover of German baked goods producer Kamps. Barilla already has a strong position in Scandinavia via the Wasa cripsbread group and the European Commission was concerned about the impact on competition there.
Barilla's performance in recent years has been in stark contrast to that of its compatriot, with a successful expansion into a number of other European markets and a widening of its portfolio to include bread and baked goods as well as the pasta for which it is best known.
The latest addition is Harry's, a French bread group in which the Italian company already had a 49 per cent stake. Earlier in the summer, Barilla took the remaining 51 per cent of Harry's from Artal Luxembourg - a move which was planned for the end of the year but which was eventually brought forward by six months.
Harry's had sales of nearly €500 million in 2002, and operates in France, Spain, Italy, Russia, Belgium, Portugal and the UK, as well as the Czech Republic and Turkey through joint ventures. In France Harry's is the brand leader in the pre-packaged bread and morning goods market.
Already the world's leading pasta brand, Barilla has sought to diversify into other areas, in part to combat the fluctuations in the pasta market where brands are often under intense pressure from own label products.
It has handled this transition extremely well, and is already the leading baked goods group in Italy, Germany, the Netherlands and Scandinavia. With continuing growth expected at the premium end of the baked goods market - especially with speciality and healthy products growing in popularity - Barilla's move looks to be a sensible one.