Asahi Beverages is continuing the development of its multi-beverage strategy, with a move into the $1billion fresh coffee market, with the purchase of premium fresh coffee business, Allpress Espresso.

Asahi Beverages Group CEO Robert Iervasi (pictured above) told The Shout that coffee is a category Asahi has been looking at for some time and this purchase will mean Asahi will be able to offer fresh coffee to on-premise venues.

“When you look at our broader portfolio of brands, across our alcohol and non-alcohol business in Australia and New Zealand, we are really pleased that we can now add a coffee offering across hot coffee, as well as ready-to-drink coffee that we can make available to our customers and consumers as we continue to expand our offering to our customers and consumers and make sure we are meeting their needs going forward,” Iervasi said.

“When you look at the fact that there’s tens of thousands of pubs and clubs in the market, some of which we service and we are now able to give those venues access to the All Press coffee, the Allpress coffee credentials, that can help them drive their own business performance as well. So it’s really using an amazing brand like Allpress, a great flavour in coffee such as what Allpress has, and making that available to our customers through our broader reach.”

Allpress was founded in New Zealand by Michael Allpress in 1989, and expanded into Australia with the help of Michael’s friend and business partner Tony Papas in 2000. The business now sells more than 1500 tonnes of coffee beans annually worldwide – around 120 million cups – to boutique cafes and restaurants and this will grow under Asahi Beverages’ ownership.

“The Allpress business model is very similar to what we have here in Oceania, in that it is direct-to-consumer, it supplies equipment for hot coffee, such as coffee machines, not too dissimilar to what we supply equipment to pubs or fridges from a non-alcohol perspective. But equally it is also a brand that has strong brand equity and one that we feel we can grow in the local market,” Iervasi told The Shout.

He added: “Michael Allpress and I have been quite instrumental in the deal and what Michael saw in Asahi was someone who could actually look after the brand in the longer term, given our investment focus on longer term credentials and we very quickly had a meeting of the minds there.

“In terms of Michael’s excitement about selling to Asahi and continuing to support us, we’ll continue to work with Michael over the coming period of time as really someone who is quite passionate about the brand and a brand ambassador, so we expect to continue to support each other as we bring the acquisition to life, post completion.”

While coffee has become an increasingly popular ingredient in a number of alcohol products such as RTDs and even coffee-based spirits, Iervasi said Asahi was not yet sure how it would develop Allpress in this area.

“It’s probably too early to make a comment or a decision about what NPD or innovation we would bring with coffee, but needless to say the alcohol landscape in particular has been evolving in the last two years, probably more than I’ve ever seen before,” he said.

“There’s the explosion in craft, better-for-you alcohol ranges and seltzers, so having coffee in our business enables us to explore different things in the future, but we don’t have firm plans as to what that will look like from an alcohol perspective just yet.”

Allpress CEO Vaughan Magnusson told The Shout that from their perspective the time was right to sell the business, and that Asahi felt like the right fit.

“Our shareholders are entering their sixties and they started thinking about a move like a couple of years ago, so this is just a natural next step to look to pass on the baton,” he said.

“We are really delighted to find a good home for Allpress, we have long-admired Asahi and their house of brands, so this is exciting for us. As a management team and a group shareholders we were very focused on getting a good home, and one that presented good opportunities for the business to continue to grow and opportunities for staff to grow as well.

“So we are really delighted, it’s a good brand fit and will sit well in the Asahi house of brands. We are really pleased that we are the only coffee brand, we think we will get special treatment, so we see a really bright future for the business under Asahi’s ownership.”

Asahi have confirmed that the jobs for the more than 240 full-time employees at Allpress are all safe.

Andy Young

Andy joined Intermedia as Editor of The Shout in 2015, writing news on a daily basis and also writing features for National Liquor News. Now Managing Editor of both The Shout and Bars and Clubs.

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