Duke Street builds French beverage portfolio

Marie Brizard & Roger International, a French drinks company in which Duke Street Capital holds the majority stake, has acquired spirit producer William Pitters International.

Duke Street Capital portfolio company Marie Brizard & Roger International (MBRI) has acquired William Pitters International (WPI), the producer of brands of spirits including William Peel Scotch whisky and San Jose tequila.
The deal has been financed entirely by a debt facility provided by BNP Paribas. The value of the transaction was not disclosed, but is understood to be in the region of €100 million ($129 million).
MBRI is a French-based beverage company, listed since 1984 on the Paris stock market. Its products include fruit liqueurs, Old Lady's gin, Gautier Cognac, and Sirop Sport.
Duke Street backed an MBI of the company in April 2000, acquiring 57 percent of shares and raising their stake to 69.3 percent the following month.
The company has pursued a strategy of refocusing on its core businesses, acquiring wine company Les Chais Beaucairois in September 2002 for £22.6 million (€32.8 million; $42.3 million) and disposing of two-non core subsidiaries the following year.
Following the acquisition of WPI, spirits will represent 40 percent of the group's sales, which the company expects to exceed €400 million this year. The deal was led for Duke Street by Paris-based director Boris Zaitra.
Duke Street is a UK mid-market private equity firm with offices in London and Paris. It has raised five funds to date, and focuses on LBOs in the UK and France in sectors including retail & consumer, leisure, healthcare and financial services.
The firm announced a spate of exits last December, selling its stakes in French golf course owner Blue Green European Holdings and Swedish music distributor Education and Entertainment Nordic. It also sold UK DIY retailer Wickes to Travis Perkins, while retaining the remainder of the Focus Wickes Group.