EQT Greater China II acquired Classic Fine Foods (CFF) in 2011. CFF was a leading fine food ingredient service provider and distributor with presence in 12 markets in Asia, the UK, and the Middle East. Products are sourced primarily from Europe, particularly France.
At the time of acquisition, CFF was operated as a collection of disparate businesses with no central management or coherent group-wide strategy/coordination.
A key aspect of CFF’s development under EQT’s ownership has been to transform the Group from a federation of businesses into a solid coherent platform, as well as to continue to drive superior sales growth and improve profitability.
During EQT’s ownership, CFF experienced strong financial performance, with top-line and EBTIDA CAGR of 14% and 15%, respectively. Profitability also improved despite significant investments in central management and the sales teams across markets. The no. of employees increased from approximately 500 to 800, and the Group expanded its geographical footprint, with 1 new market (China) and 6 new cities.
Following a competitive auction process, CFF was sold to Metro AG in 2015.
Key events during EQT's ownership
- Installed highly competent central management team with MNC background—CEO Fergus Balfour (ex-COO of Unilever Food Solutions Asia) and CFO Paul Young (ex-Regional Finance Director of SSL Asia Pacific)
- Expanded product range and heavily invested in sales specialists
- Entered China through acquisition of a local player, building a critical platform for future growth
- Expanded into other cities, increasing footprint from 15 cities to 21 cities
- Standardized best practices across countries and coherent strategy to create an integrated platform. Installed a KPI-based culture across the organization
- Implemented various procurement and logistics initiatives to deliver profitability improvement