Icko Apiculture, the european leader in apicultural supplies and equipment, accelerates its development with Cerea Partenaire
The family business founded in 1947 and led by Pierre Ickowicz, grandson of its founder, opens its capital to Cerea Capital II
Based in Bollène (Vaucluse, France), Icko Apiculture is a family business specialized in the design, sourcing, manufacturing and marketing of beekeeping supplies and equipment for BtoB (resellers, professional beekeepers, gardening stores) and BtoC (amateur beekeepers) clients.
Icko Apiculture's broad and diversified offer covers all the needs of a beekeeper: beeswax, nutrition products, beehives, tools and equipment, packaging, etc... More than half of Icko Apiculture's sales are from its proprietary brands including COMBIZ (clothing), RUCHECO (hives), CANDIMIEL (nourishment) or ICKO (embossed wax). These brands are highly regarded by professional beekeepers for their innovative character and competitive prices.
With sales of roughly €M 26 and about 60 employees, Icko Apiculture distributes its 4 500 products by correspondence and e-commerce, as well as through an integrated network of 6 stores and more than 600 retailers in France and abroad.
After more than 15 years of decline, the number of beekeepers has been growing steadily again since 2007. Today, the beekeeping industry is driven by strong positive trends: increasing consumption of healthy and natural products, awareness about the preservation of pollinators, the do it yourself mindset and the desire to act as an eco-citizen by practicing beekeeping, made possibly by the democratization of apiculture and the negative trade balance of French honey with a national production deficit of roughly 50%. It is in this market context that Icko Apiculture and Cerea Partners have identified important strategic opportunities.
This operation will enable Icko's management team, led by Pierre Ickowicz, to begin a new phase of its development around the following axes:
Organic growth: strengthening the territorial network and the continuous development of proprietary brands, especially amongst amateurs;
External growth: numerous consolidation opportunities, both vertical and horizontal, in a fragmented European market;
International: the development of exports (currently 14% of sales) with a focus on Italy, Spain, Germany, Northern Africa and the Middle East;
Innovation: investing in research and development to improve the working conditions of beekeepers.
Pierre Ickowicz, President of Icko Apiculture, declared:"This is an important step in the history of our company. With Cerea Partners, I found investors sharing our vision and our ambitions. This collaboration will allow us to strengthen our commitment, our international presence and to bring more innovation, advice, services, support and satisfaction to professional and amateur beekeepers."
Gilles Sicard, Executive Managing Director and Xavier Renault, Director with Cerea Partners, declared:"We are delighted to accompany Icko Apiculture, a historical specialist and innovator in its growth projects. Convinced of the virtues and positive potential of beekeeping, we are proud to participate in the development of a French sector of excellence."
Financing of the transaction is completed by a banking pool composed of Crédit du Nord, BNP PARIBAS, LCL and the participation of the European SME Debt Fund, managed by BNP PARIBAS.
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