China Food

Unilever officially bid farewell to the “world’s largest tea company”, and Lipton has also made new arrangements in China

Unilever officially bid farewell to the title of “the world’s largest tea company”.

On July 1, while officially implementing the new structure, the global FMCG giant announced that it had completed the sale of its tea business ekaterra to CVC Capital Partners Fund VIII at a price of 4.5 billion euros. Then, on the next working day after the completion of the delivery (July 4), ekaterra announced the appointment of Nathalie Roos as the Global CEO and Pierre laubies as the chairman of the board of directors.

This means that many tea brands, including China Lipton business, have officially been completely stripped from Unilever and transferred to CVC, the “new owner” private equity company, and ekaterra, this large-scale global tea business, has also welcomed the “new leader”.

Xiaoshidai learned today that the business of ekaterra (Chinese Name: Ecotech) in the Chinese market is now led by Jennifer antczak (Chinese Name: shangdexin), President of ekaterra Asia Australia and general manager of Greater China. She took office in March 2021 and is currently based in Shanghai.

Let’s pay attention.

Formal completion of divestiture

Unilever said in an announcement released last Friday that previously, Unilever and CVC had signed an agreement to sell ekaterra in November 2021, at a price of 4.5 billion euros (about 31.4 billion yuan) on a cash free and debt free basis; It is expected to be completed in the second half of 2022.

Xiaoshidai once said that in November last year, Unilever decided to package and sell its global tea business, which also has a new name “ekaterra”. According to reports, ekaterra owns 34 brands, including Lipton, PG tip, pukka, T2 and Tazo. The revenue of this business in 2020 is about 2billion euros (about 14billion yuan).

Unilever global tea business

According to the announcement, the transactions that have officially completed the sale do not include Unilever’s tea business in India, Nepal and Indonesia, as well as Unilever’s interests in PepsiCo Lipton instant tea joint venture and related distribution businesses.

With the new framework coming into effect on July 1, Lipton tea (such as the joint venture with Pepsi instant tea) business that has not been stripped off is classified under the nutrition business group and managed by Hanneke Faber, President of Unilever nutrition business group.

This is also a “big step” taken by Unilever in vigorously reshaping its product portfolio.

Alan jope, CEO of Unilever, said last year that the evolution of product portfolio towards high growth is an important part of Unilever’s growth strategy. The decision to sell ekaterra shows that Unilever has made new progress in realizing the plan. In 2020, he said that although the tea business achieved price driven growth, the sales volume fell due to the decline in the demand for black tea from consumers in developed markets.

“Our product portfolio is much better now than it was four years ago.”

Under the strategy of accelerating the growth of the group, the “peak era” of Unilever’s long-standing tea business came to an end. According to the data, Unilever’s tea business has a history of more than 150 years, which can be traced back to Brooke bond Tea Co. (1869), a tea company established in the UK, and Thomas J. Lipton Co. (1890), who later began shipping tea to the United States.

According to Euromonitor data, in 2018, Unilever was far ahead of the global tea companies with a share of 10.6%, and its share even exceeded the total share of companies ranking second to fifth. Hanneke Faber, President of Unilever global food and beverage, also pointed out at the 2019 general meeting of the company that in all the markets the company entered, its tea business accounted for more than 20% of the market share in terms of sales.

Now, the tea business spun off by Unilever has formed a new “world’s largest tea company”.

Xiaoshidai noticed that at present, ekaterra has opened its official website and incorporated into twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms. According to the official website, ekaterra is “the world’s largest tea company”, with an annual revenue of about 2billion euros. It owns Lipton and other brands, 11 production plants on four continents and tea gardens in three countries. Its business covers more than 100 countries / regions, has more than 15000 employees, and provides tea to more than 600million people in homes, cafes, restaurants, offices and other places every day.

“Like the most popular tea, our name is mixed: Eka is Sanskrit, meaning ‘one’. In Latin, Terra means’ land ‘; in Chinese, it means’ nature’; this is a reminder that there is only one earth. If we care about her, she will also take care of us.” Ekaterra said, “we combine these ideas with culture to achieve our common goal: to create a happy world through the rejuvenation of plants.”

“Exciting new stage”

Following the completion of the transaction, ekaterra’s new management team also appeared.

Yesterday, ekaterra announced on the official platform that Nathalie Roos was appointed CEO and Pierre laubies served as chairman of the board of directors. The company said that their appointment “marks the beginning of an exciting new stage for ekaterra as an independent enterprise”.

Left: Pierre laubies, chairman of the board of ekaterra; Right: Nathalie Roos, CEO of ekaterra

According to the announcement, Nathalie Roos was previously the head of L’Oreal’s professional product department and once served as the German CEO of the group. In addition, she worked as an executive at Mars for nearly 20 years. At present, she is also a non-executive director of pret-a-manger, a British snack brand, and Bel group, a French manufacturer of healthy dairy products and fruit snacks.

“As a complement to Nathalie’s experience, Pierre laubies took the post of chairman of ekaterra’s board of directors. Pierre has 30 years of leadership experience in Mars and Campbell soup companies, and recently served as the CEO of (coffee giant) Jacobs Douwe egberts and Coty.” Ekaterra said that he would continue to be a member of the board of Philips household appliances and groupe panzani (a French pasta brand).

This also means that, unlike previous arrangements, John Davison, the Global CEO of Unilever tea company, who took office last April, is no longer in charge of ekaterra. “Ekaterra’s leadership team and CVC thank John Davison, the outgoing CEO, for his significant contribution to the business.” Ekaterra said.

“I am proud of the ekaterra team, who split their business from Unilever and established it as an independent company, and have achieved many milestones. I believe ekaterra will flourish, and I wish Nathalie and the team success in accelerating the development momentum of ekaterra and becoming a tea company that brings health and well-being.”


So, what does the new CEO think about taking charge of the world’s largest tea company?

“Tea plays an important role in societies around the world, rooted in tradition, culture and community spirit. It also has incredible development ability and is always closely related to the times. The future of ekaterra will also reflect these elements.” Nathalie Roos said in the announcement yesterday.

“At the same time, we have ambitious plans to become a leader in sustainable tea production, farming and distribution methods and a supporter of the communities in which we operate.” “As consumers want to reap the health benefits of antioxidant rich tea, they are also keen to support businesses committed to improving the natural environment and supporting employees,” she said

In her view, tea is an “exciting growth category”. “As healthy consumers seek new products and arouse interest in fruit tea, the popularity of tea continues to grow. Among its young brands, pukka and T2 lead the industry through b-corp certification.” Ekaterra said.

China Xinshuai and business

In the Chinese market, with the completion of the sale transaction, Lipton, pukka and other tea brands originally owned by Unilever have also welcomed “new owners”.

Today, a person familiar with the situation told xiaoshidai that ekaterra has completed the registration of its new company in the Chinese market, named “ekaterra”, which is currently led by Jennifer antczak, President of ekaterra Asia Australia and general manager of Greater China.

According to the industrial and commercial data searched by Xiaoshi Dai, Ecotech (Shanghai) plant products Co., Ltd. was established on August 12, 2021, with a registered capital of US $2million and an approval date of June 7, 2022. It is held by the foreign-funded enterprise ekaterra Group Holdings B.V., and its business scope includes the import and export of crop seeds, crop seed management, food management, food Internet sales, food import and export, goods import and export, etc. The legal representative, general manager and executive director of the company is Jennifer te Hsin antczak.

According to an official resume obtained by xiaoshidai, shangdexin has more than 20 years of experience in developing brands, personnel and business, and has worked at Unilever for more than 12 years. She has been the general manager of ekaterra Greater China since March 2021 and is based in Shanghai.

Statistics show that Suntech is a “passionate, strategic and goal oriented leader” with an outstanding record of creating, accelerating and reversing performance in the global and local markets (the United States and China). She is “famous for her real leadership, leading the team with a clear vision, unity and collaboration, and advocating action, and achieving results”.

It is worth noting that this new handsome has rich working experience in Lipton, the Chinese market and e-commerce in his resume.

According to the data, before taking up the new position, from July 2017 to March 2021, she served as the global vice president of Lipton in London, England, leading the transformation agenda of this 1.65 billion euro global brand. In addition, she once served as the vice president of Unilever USA in charge of brand development, direct consumer / e-commerce and beverage business.

Xiaoshidai noted that from August 2013 to February 2016, Suntech served as the vice president of global brand development of Lipton instant tea business, responsible for leading the growth agenda of Lipton instant tea globally, including global product portfolio strategy and innovation platform. It is reported that during her tenure, she led the team to “transform the growth vision into a practical consumer centered innovation platform and project” by facing the future demand space, formulating a strategic framework and jointly creating with key markets.

At the same time, she formulated a vision and development strategy for the Chinese market, including negotiation and cooperation with the senior management of the licensed bottler Master Kong Beverage Holdings Co., Ltd., in order to promote the launch plan of Lipton instant tea in China and the common vision of both parties. In addition, she also led the launch of Lipton instant tea business in the United States in 2014, with sales increasing from -11% to +6%.

As mentioned above, at present, Lipton instant tea business is not included in this divestiture, and is still retained in the business territory of Unilever.

In fact, unlike Unilever, which needs to solve the problem of slowing growth at the global level, the tea business is still in a stage of continuous development in the Chinese market. In recent years, Lipton has maintained double-digit growth in the Chinese market and has been firmly in the “top position” in the Chinese tea bag Market for many years. Nielsen data shows that Lipton accounted for more than 70% of the tea bag Market of non herbal tea in offline channels in 2019.

At present, Lipton operates more than 200 products in the Chinese market, covering tea bags, tea powder, canned loose tea and other categories, and sells about 2billion cups of tea every year. In addition to the retail C-end business, Lipton also operates a large-scale catering b-end business in China, covering tens of thousands of catering stores nationwide. Last year, there were still new investments in this tea business in China.

However, with a large number of local tea bag start-ups pouring into the track with innovative ideas, including Chali tea, tea Xiaokong, Xi tea and Naixue tea, it remains to be seen whether Lipton can still maintain its advantage in the increasingly fierce competition. Xiaoshidai will continue to pay close attention to the new development trends of Lipton and other brands after the Chinese business welcomes new owners and leaders.

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