French seafood specialist hooks PE capital

Alliance Entreprendre, Nord Capital Partenaires and Unigrains have acquired a chunk of Demarne as the company seeks to expand into the ready-to-cook segment.

One of France’s largest seafood traders has seen its shareholding restructured after netting minority backing from a group of private equity investors.

Alliance Entreprendre, Nord Capital Partenaires and Unigrains, which already own a stake in Demarne, have injected fresh equity in the group to support the entry of a new family member as a partial owner of the business. Jean-Paul Demarne, who runs the company, was keen to have his son Romain join in as the trader contemplates “a new phase in its growth.”

Demarne generated €128 million in sales in 2017, up from €104 million in 2011, according to local reports. It also posted €4.4 million in gross operating income last year and is expected to generate €130 million in sales in 2018. It employs 145 staff.

“Thus structured, Demarne can begin a new phase in its growth driven by favorable trends in seafood consumption, the development of ready-to-cook products for restaurants and potential external growth opportunities,” the company said.

Alliance Entreprendre, Nord Capital Partenaires and Unigrains initially invested in the business seven years ago, when Jean-Paul Demarne also enlisted Unexo, Ouest Croissance and Bpifrance to help him bring control of the group back in the family. His father and his uncle had sold the company to Brittany’s Charly Guennec food group in 2001.

“We have found three complementary investor-partners with both the financial tools to facilitate a family transmission and specific areas of expertise to accompany our growth,” Demarne said.

In January, Unigrains acquired a minority stake in Armbruster Group, a heavyweight in France’s grain trading and flour industry, as part of a succession plan at the company.