Kiwi coffee pioneer Allpress Espresso, which started back in 1989, has been sold to Japanese beverage giant Asahi for an undisclosed sum.
The 32-year-old business was founded by Michael Allpress with a single standalone coffee cart in Auckland's Victoria Park and since then has expanded its operations to Australia, Japan, Singapore and Britain, supplying more than 1500 tonnes of coffee beans to cafes and restaurants each year.
It employs 240 staff, about 100 based in New Zealand, and holds a 20 per cent share of the wholesale fresh coffee bean market.
Local market rival Coffee Supreme says Allpress' sale to Asahi reflects the excellence of New Zealand's coffee culture as big beverage companies turned to specialty coffee as a major strategic asset for diversification.
"New Zealand's coffee culture is something that all New Zealanders have helped to build. Allpress can be proud of the part they have played in developing the NZ coffee scene and exporting that to the world," Coffee Supreme commercial director, Jesse Newson, said.
Asahi employs 400 staff in New Zealand and owns drinks brands Long White Vodka, Woodstock, Charlie's and Phoenix Organics, among others.
The company says the acquisition of Allpress will be finalised at the end of May, and that the business will continue to be run independently by its current management team.
The acquisition will see Asahi enter New Zealand's multi-million-dollar fresh coffee markets for the first time as it looks to grow its portfolio of non-alcoholic drinks brands.
Data from Euromonitor and private research commissioned by Asahi values New Zealand's coffee market at around $200 million, based on the volume of fresh coffee sold to wholesale and retail customers. The market is worth about $1 billion in Australia.
Michael Allpress, and his business partner Tony Papas, began mulling the future of the business about two years ago, when he turned 60.
The business was put on the market via UBS and received a number of offers both domestically and in Britain. Allpress said they decided on Asahi as they thought it would be "the best custodian of the brand".
Allpress chief executive Vaughan Magnusson said Allpress would continue to expand its footprint globally under Asahi ownership.
"We're an international business at the moment, but given [Asahi's] muscle and access to a very large distribution channel, there is potential to turn Allpress into a truly global brand," Magnusson told the Herald.
"It's an exciting and natural next step for this business - it's a great product and great brand and there is so much more we can do with it. We excited for the future."
The majority of Allpress' business is through the B2B wholesale channel; however, it operates local roasteries in each of its markets, along with retail cafes and coffee kiosks. It recently opened a flagship cafe in Tokyo and has two outlets in London.
Last year was a year of highs and lows for Allpress as it navigated lockdowns in multiple markets, but Magnusson said sales had since roared back to life and continued to be strong.
Allpress said the pandemic and the shift in consumer behaviour had enabled the business to explore other avenues of growth.
"With Covid, the geography of consumption of coffee has really shifted out of the CBD and into the home market, and so that was a catalyst for us to drive some new product development, which is something Asahi can run with. [We'll be releasing] some pods and ready to drink cans and Allpress concentrate."
Andrew Campbell, chief executive of Asahi Beverages, said Allpress was a good fit for the company. "Allpress has been an exceptional business for over 30 years and a New Zealand household name, we're really pleased to have the brand enter our business."
He said the acquisition was complementary to Asahi's broader business: "We've been thinking about coffee for quite some time."