Various sources are reporting that Verlinvest, the investment company of the de Spoelberch family, will take a minority stake in the ethical chocolate producer Tony's Chocolonely. The family is one of the main owners of AB InBev .
According to Belgian newspaper De Tijd, the negotiations between Verlinvest and the Dutch chocolate company are almost completed. The size of the investment is not yet known.
Tony's Chocolonely is very popular in the Netherlands and even has a larger market share than such giants as Mars and Nestlé. The company was founded fifteen years ago with the aim of bringing "slavery-free chocolate" to the market.
The brand is also on sale in Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States. Turnover in the 2018-2019 financial year rose to 70 million euros, but the profit was only 2,656 euros. The disappointing result is predominantly due to the high investments made in international expansion. In September, CEO Jan Beltman even feared a substantial loss, but that did not happen.
This year, Beltman is hoping for a turnover of 100 million euros. The chocolate producer also wants to expand its activities in more German-speaking countries, and build a new chocolate factory near Amsterdam. As these plans cost a lot of money, it is not surprising that the company went looking for a partner.
They now appear to have found one in Verlinvest, the investment company of AB InBev's de Spoelberch family. In 2011, Verlinvest also invested in Dutch sustainable supermarket chain Marqt. However, when it became evident that profitability remained problematic, the investment company pulled out again in 2017.