Prestat agrees major deal for Rococo British premium chocolate brand

Premium confectionery group Prestat has unveiled a key acquisition of London-based Rococo Chocolates brand, which has gained prominence for the quality of its finely-packaged artisan ranges, writes Neill Barston.

The move comes amid heightened demand for the luxury market segment, as consumers continue a key trend for increasingly mindful product selection and focus on eating quality product ranges that are sustainably sourced.

Consequently, the latest deal, which was for an undisclosed sum, continues the investment being made by Prestat, which was itself acquired by Gruppo Illy in 2019, resulting in a key sourcing link with Italian chocolate brand Domori.

Rococo has gained a notable prominence in London, with high profile shops in Marylebone, Belgravia and Chelsea, as well as its proficiency in the online channels, with more than £1M in sales in 2021, which is said to offer a strong fit for its new owners, whose markets are more wholesale in nature.

As a heritage producer based in London, Prestat remains one of the very few businesses in the sector to hold  a Royal Warrant granted by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, with the business producing a special confectionery selection in honour of the monarch to celebrate her platinum Jubilee this month.

Incoming CEO Micaela Illy, (main image, who recently gave an exclusive video interview to Confectionery Production, said: “The Rococo brand has great momentum and last year achieved record sales of nearly £4 million, having grown by more than 30% over the last two years. The business’s exciting new product range and its strong team under the leadership of my predecessor Rupert Morley has driven strong growth in both retail and online channels. Sadly, the pandemic was not kind to smaller retail brands and the investment market is very volatile at the moment, so we were very fortunate to be able to take advantage of these extraordinary times to acquire the brand and with it, the opportunity to invest and build on the unique Rococo legacy built over the last 40 years.”

Outgoing CEO Rupert Morley, believed the combined strengths of the two businesses would be particularly notable. He said: “Rococo Chocolates is an iconic British brand that has delighted generations of chocolate lovers. I was privileged to have the opportunity to build on the legacy of its esteemed founder Chantal Coady (who is now a Confectionery Production board member), and I am delighted to be able to pass it on to Micaela Illy. This is an exciting time. The new owners strongly believe in the business and with Micaela’s energy and vision, Rococo will surely go on to achieve even greater things.”

The acquisition combines two of the most renowned and established British Chocolate brands with a shared commitment to product quality and creates deep synergies for the group. Thanks to fine chocolate producer Domori, also part of Gruppo Illy since 2006, both brands will have complete control of the supply chain – from the cultivation and selection of raw materials, to the transformation of chocolate, up to the creation of creative recipes and direct distribution to the customer.

Micaela Illy added: “It is an honour for us to carry forward such a beloved London brand, characterised by its refined products and design-led packaging. We now embark on an incredibly exciting new adventure, leading two of the most renowned British Chocolate brands, with a deeply shared commitment to product quality. As part of the Gruppo Illy, both brands will have complete control of the supply chain, from selection and transformation of the finest raw materials driven by Domori, to the creation of fabulous recipes by Prestat and Rococo.

“While Prestat and Rococo Chocolates share the same philosophy around quality and spirit, both brands will retain their own unique and recognised brand identities, in line with their respective heritages. The strategic ethos being followed is ‘one team, two brands’, united in their Britishness, quality, and pursue of excellence.”

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