Japanese beverage giant buys Kiwi coffee business Allpress

Kiwi coffee business Allpress Espresso is said to have sold for upwards of $50 million.

The mainly wholesale business, which also operates cafes and roasteries in five markets, has been sold to Japanese beverage giant Asahi Breweries.

The local arm of the company would not disclose how much the business had changed hands for, and founder Michael Allpress said he was bound by NDA to keep the amount secret. The transaction is expected to be completed in May.

However, business sales executive Chris Small said he had seen Allpress accounts in the past and knew it was “a very profitable business”.

Small, who is managing director of ABC Business Sales, estimates the coffee pioneer was sold for anywhere between $50m and $60m – the equivalent of six to eight times its earnings before interest and taxes.

He estimated the company’s annual turnover in New Zealand was about $40m and $20m in Australia. “They’ll be making potentially about $10m ebitda and would have got approximately $50-60m for the company,” Small told the Herald.

Small said the purchase price was top of the range for a coffee company – and perhaps the biggest sale ever within the local coffee industry.

“That’s right at the top end of the market. Generally, those businesses would sell for three to four times ebitda, but [Allpress] would have got a premium because they have a $1 billion corporate company who sees them as a strategic play to expand worldwide.”

Asahi paid similar multiples to acquire juice business Charlie’s in 2011, he said.

“When you get a big corporate that decides they want a company, and it’s a good strategic fit and they can grow it worldwide, they will pay what I call silly multiples.”

Allpress chief executive Vaughan Magnusson and namesake founder Michael Allpress were unable to reveal the purchase price when interviewed by the Herald last week.

Asahi Beverages chief Andrew Campbell was also tight-lipped on the price.

Retail commentator Chris Wilkinson agreed that the sale of Allpress would “without a doubt” be the biggest in the coffee industry to date.

He said he believed Allpress would have sold for more than $50-60m – closer to the $75 million mark based on other coffee company sales in recent years.

“It is entirely feasible that it would have sold in that region. That’s based on previous sales within the category and the kind of value that it would deliver to its purchaser, particularly in its international operations where it can propel scale,” Wilkinson said.

Smaller coffee business Caffe L’affare was sold to Japanese-owned food group Cerebos Gregg’s for an estimated $25m in 2006, and Havana, sold to Lion in 2018, is understood to have been sold for north of $40m.

Small said he was not aware of any other Kiwi coffee business that had been purchased at higher a premium.

“There was nothing else that was sold for more than that. Allpress, for wholesale supply, has the biggest wholesale network and a great reputation in the market so I can confidently say [that it is] the highest priced coffee wholesale business.”

Michael Allpress would have pocketed a large chunk of that – he held a 100 per cent shareholding in the local firm along with Jane Allpress, and a 40 per cent share in the international business, according to Companies Office records.

As with all significant takeovers, often some of the purchase price is often held back and paid over a set period of time as part of an earn-out structure to ensure the firm’s forecasted profitability was met.

Wilkinson said coffee businesses with unique brands were well sought after by large international alcoholic beverage and snack food companies as the consumption of alcohol continued to decline.

Allpress was founded in 1989 with a single standalone coffee cart in Auckland’s Victoria Park. Since then it has expanded its operations to Australia, Japan, Singapore and Britain, supplying more than 1500 tonnes of coffee beans to cafes and restaurants each year.

It employs 240 staff, about 100 based in New Zealand, and holds a 20 per cent share of the wholesale fresh coffee bean market.

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