Tony’s Chocolonely expands with Netherlands acquisition of Althaea-De Laet Int factory
Premium chocolate brand Tony’s Chocolonely has expanded its operations after acquiring Althaea NV and De Laet International NV, forming the chocolate factory Althaea-De Laet Int, reports Neill Barston.
As the ethically founded Amsterdam-headquartered company explain, its latest move to buy the fellow Dutch family-run business is in recognition of its status as an existing long-term partner.
The acquisition marks a strategic milestone for Tony’s growth plans: by operating its own factory to mould its unique chocolate bars, the company will be able to innovate faster and be more flexible on production level while scaling up its manufacturing capacity. Tony’s will continue to collaborate with its other long-term partners to meet demand for its series of bars.
Though financial details of the move have not been released, the company explained the acquisition also marks an important step to pursuing the company’s dream of Tony’s Chocolonely Chocolate Circus, a factory on the border of Zaanstad and Amsterdam, which will be realised in the years to come.
The company is continuing its drive for ‘slave free’ chocolate amid ongoing concerns over child labour within supply chains, which it acknowledges remains an ongoing quest. See our recent video interview exclusive with the business on its sustainability mission in core producing markets including Ivory Coast.
Anne-Wil Dijkstra, Choco Co-Captain (COO) at Tony’s Chocolonely (pictured right of main image) welcomed the move. She said: “We’re thrilled to announce this acquisition. It’s an exciting next step for Tony’s Chocolonely as a fast-growing impact company that wants to change a whole industry from within and make 100% slave free the norm in chocolate.
“Ingrid, Alain and the team at Althaea-De Laet Int. have been our partners from the very beginning, supporting our mission even though it might have seemed next-level ambitious at times – and some of our ideas like creating an unequally divided chocolate bar were a little bit crazy at the very least. We’re very grateful for this opportunity and the trust they have in Tony’s to honour and safeguard the future of this company that has been built with so much love.” –
De Laet Int. was founded in 1960 by the De Laet family and has remained a family business ever since. In 1987, Althaea joined, taking on responsibility for the commercial development. Driven by a passion for chocolate, the Belgian manufacturer has come a long way from its beginnings as a small and exclusive artisanal company, specialising in liqueur pralines, to the chocolate factory it is today, moulding bars and tablets for Tony’s and other chocolate makers.
Tony’s was introduced to Althaea-De Laet Int. through Barry Callebaut in 2004, tapping into their extensive experience with Fairtrade chocolate to produce the first alarming red Tony’s Chocolonely chocolate bar.
“Owing to the fact that we as a family have no direct succession, we were looking for a partner, an entrepreneur, who could continue our dream with the same spirit and passion. And we have found this partner in the team of Tony’s Chocolonely. We trust that Tony’s will ensure that Althaea-De Laet has a bright future while maintaining our values of caring for the team, quality, and collegiality.” – Ingrid Bryssinck, Managing Director at Althaea-De Laet Int.
Tony’s will collaborate closely with the factory’s management team to ensure a smooth transition in the next couple of years. “We first need to understand how to walk before we can start running,” explains Dijkstra regarding Tony’s approach to picking up the reins. “The whole Althaea-De Laet Int. team has decades of knowledge and skills under their belt. They know all the ins and outs of how to mold the tastiest chocolate and efficiently operate a production facility. Production on this scale is a new capability for us. But we’re excited to partner and learn from them and to get a grip on the production over time.”