• 31/05/2023

    Cerea Partners takes a majority stake in AB Process Ingénierie, a French company that designs and integrates custom robotic and automated solutions, alongside the CEO and founders

    Cerea Partners, a pioneering investor and partner for companies in the food & beverage industry, today announced its acquisition of a stake in the group composed of AB Process Ingénierie and Coaxial Technologie, alongside CEO Brian Boulanger, the group’s founders, Bpifrance and regional partners Sodero and Unexo. Former majority shareholder Trajan is using the opportunity to reinvest in the new deal. This marks the third investment by the Cerea Capital III Fund, which completed its initial closing in summer 2022.

    Founded in 2008 in Landivisiau, a town in the Finistère department of Brittany in north-western France, by Michel Bris, Christophe Abjean and Stéphane Pluchon, AB Process Ingénierie designs and integrates custom robotic and automated solutions to automate processes, in particular end-of-line automation for the food industry. The group works with its clients from design to delivery of turnkey projects.

    In 2020, Trajan completed the first investment by its Transmission & Croissance 1 fund by investing in AB Process Ingénierie. This deal paved the way for the arrival of a new CEO, Brian Boulanger. In 2022, the group carried out its first external growth transaction in this fragmented market, with the tie-up with Coaxial Technologie.

    Founded in 2010 in Landivisiau by Hubert Coat and Stéphane Guillou, Coaxial Technologie SAS specialises in turnkey delivery of production lines for the food industry. The company serves major fish, meat and egg processors in particular, and has built up expertise in manufacturing container washers.

    Over the past 15-plus years, the group has established a solid reputation in the market for integrated production lines for the food industry built on (i) its customer-focused value proposition, based on co-designing and adapting solutions to fit customers’ specific requirements for more flexible production lines; (ii) its technical expertise, with support from three engineering firmsbacked by experienced engineers; and lastly (iii) its recognised know-how in the food industry. The group generates revenue of around €25M, achieving annual organic growth of around 12% on average since 2020.

    Backed by Cerea Partners, the group is now entering a new phase in its development, with four key priorities:

    • Rounding out the workforce, with further hires to accommodate the group’s growth and meet future demand for automation solutions
    • Consolidating its position at the regional level and continuing its development at the international scale
    • Continuing to expand the group through external growth
    • Helping the group successfully navigate its CSR transition

    Brian Boulanger, CEO of the AB Process/Coaxial group, commented on the deal: “We are delighted to have Cerea, a key partner in the food industry, at our side for the next stage in the group’s growth.Having a shareholder with an in-depth understanding of what our clients in this sector are looking for was particularly resonant for us, as we endeavour to help food processors and manufacturers address these same priorities.”

    Xavier Renault, Partner at Cerea Partners, commented: “Beyond the company’s intrinsic qualities, it operates in a market buoyed by favourable underlying trends including a labour shortage in physically strenuous jobs (with a high risk of musculoskeletal disorders), a push to achieve productivity gains in the food industry – an even greater priority given the inflationary environment – and a general trend toward automation and robotics that fits within the plan to galvanise France’s manufacturing sector.”

    Emmanuelle Gervais, Deputy Head of Mid-Cap Equity Funds at Bpifrance, added: “We are very glad to be backing AB Process Ingénierie in this next stage in its development, in a national priority that holds strategic importance for Bpifrance. The company’s expertise and capacity for innovation to serve its clients are valuable assets given the French industrial sector’s automation and robotics needs.”

    053123 - Press Release Cerea - AB Process UK