Invermere’s Kicking Horse Coffee bought by Italy’s Lavazza

Lavazza’s investment is worth $172 million

Elana Rosenfeld, CEO of Kicking Horse Coffee | BIV files

The Lavazza Group, a coffee conglomerate with operations in 90 countries around the world, has purchased an 80% equity stake in Kicking Horse Coffee, a fair-trade coffee company based in the East Kootnenay town of Invermere.

Kicking Horse has been valued at $215 million, making the Italian company’s investment worth $172 million. The Italian company purchased the investment from Swander Pace Capital, a private-equity fund that acquired the stake five years ago.

“Kicking Horse Coffee has always distinguished itself for its unrelenting commitment to quality coffee, along with strong sustainability values,” said Kicking Horse co-founder and CEO Elana Rosenfeld, who will hold on to the remaining 20% investment in the company and will stay on as CEO.

“The Lavazza Group shares this vision and we now have the perfect partner to assist us in growing and connecting the world with our coffee.”

Check out BIV’s 2014 interview with Elana Rosenfeld, CEO of Kicking Horse Coffee

Lavazza CEO Antonio Baravalle will serve as the chair of Kicking Horse. He said organic fair-trade coffee is one of the fastest-growing products in the world, particularly in North America.

“Kicking Horse Coffee leads this segment with a brand that is perfectly complementary to the Lavazza portfolio,” Baravalle said.

“In recent years, the company has constantly grown at a double-digit rate and, thanks to this acquisition, its growth and development prospects both in and outside of Canada will increase significantly.

This purchase represents the next step in Lavazza’s international strategy; it has recently purchased France’s Carte Noire and Denmark’s Merrild.

Kicking Horse was founded in 1996 by Rosenfeld and her husband, Leo Johnson. The company started as a coffee shop and moved into coffee roasting and distribution. Its products are found in grocery stores in Canada and the United States.

- With files from Jen St. Denis