The right ingredients
Combining innovation and new product launches during MidEuropa’s stewardship helped MBG bake up success
Identifying a segment ripe for innovation within the fast-growing consumer sector saw MidEuropa bring together three businesses to form Moji Brendovi Group (‘MBG’) in 2015. Organic growth and operational efficiencies meant the business grew admirably, with two of the three businesses sold in 2019.
MidEuropa created Moji Brendovi Group (‘MBG’) in April 2015 when it acquired Danube Foods Group and Clates Holding. The Group consisted of Imlek, a dairy group in the former Yugoslavia; Bambi, a Serbian confectionery producer; and Knjaz Milos, a Serbian mineral water producer.
MidEuropa’s in-depth understanding of growing businesses in the region gave it conviction the new group would be a success, as the sector was benefitting from increasing customer spending, while Imlek, Bambi and Knjaz Milos had strong brand equity and high-quality products popular with a broad consumer base. All three businesses owned some of the most iconic brands in their respective categories: Imlek owned leading brands such as Moja Kravica and Balans; Bambi had leading confectionery products in Serbia, including biscuit brand Plazma; and Knjaz Milos made some of Serbia’s most popular drinks, including a range of eponymous sparkling water and Guarana energy drinks.
All three businesses were clear leaders with strong market share in their key segments, brands with “category killer” status, and had potential for operational improvements.
MidEuropa deployed its operational toolkit to optimise the businesses and improve profitability through commercial improvements, cost efficiency and other value creation projects. The Group’s governance was augmented with a shared financial reporting and planning team, while Alain Beyens, now an Operating Partner of MidEuropa, took on the role of Chairman, providing strategic guidance and oversight for the management teams.
MidEuropa led a full strategic review which put innovation at the core of all three businesses. The management set out to optimise the product portfolio, which included disposing of certain non-core assets. Other strategy pillars included further boosting strong market share across the key categories, and implementing operating efficiency to improve margins. The initiatives paid off: Imlek’s innovation rate increased from 2% to 10% (based on share of new products in total sales); Bambi increased its biscuit market share from 40% to 42%; Knjaz Milos saw its EBITDA margin increase by seven percentage points.
On the financial side, MidEuropa optimised the capital structure across different levels, ensuring resilience, liquidity and solvency were maintained during the accelerated growth journey.
MBG’s financial performance was strong and remained robust in a challenging macro environment, highlighting the strength of its brands and ambition of management. This, combined with the scarcity value achieved through the years of growth, meant the businesses were attractive to a number of trade buyers. Ultimately in 2019 Bambi was sold to Coca-Cola HBC and Knjaz Milos to PepsiCo and KMV.
* at Imlek
** at Knjaz Milos
*** at Bambi