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Future Group gains Sunkist, kisses goodbye to Capital Foods

By RJ Whitehead , 11-Dec-2013

Future Consumer Enterprise, the FMCG division of Kishore Biyani’s Future Group, has been busy this week, announcing it will launch Sunkist in India, and divesting itself of Capital Foods, a major private-label brand.

"FCEL has entered into a long-term agreement with Califomia-based Sunkist Growers, an international licensor and the most widely recognised name in the citrus category, to manufacture, market and sell fruit juice drinks, sparkling beverages and a range of other food products under the world-famous Sunkist brand in India," the company said in a filing to Bombay Stock Exchange.

Biyani, Future Group’s chief executive, added: "The introduction of Sunkist products in India will also mark the company's entry into the general trade, making FCEL one of the fastest growing Indian consumer goods companies.”

FCEL on the rise

FCEL will first launch Sunkist fruit juice and sparkling beverages in the country over the next six months, and Biyani said he expects the Sunkist brand to account for revenues worth Rs100cr (US$16.4m) within the next two years. 

The company’s food park in Tumkur, Karnataka, will be involved in managing the sourcing, manufacturing, packaging and distribution of the products.

While the flagship retail division of Future Group has been struggling over recent years, it is known that Biyani has high hopes for FCEL, which was formerly known as Future Ventures, to the point that he expects the business to grow from an anticipated Rs2,000cr (US$326m) next year to Rs10,000cr (US$1.6bn) by 2020.

The division has no debt on its books and has cash in hand of around Rs280cr (US$145.6m) that will be invested for expansion, according to a company statement.

Capital stake goes to France

At the same time, Future announced it will sell FCEL’s entire stake, worth 44%, in noodles and ketchup manufacturer Capital Foods to Artal Investments, a French private-equity fund, for Rs180cr (US$29.3m). 

Capital Foods is an India-based manufacturer and global supplier of private-label processed foods, and accounts for brands like the Smith & Jones and instant Chinese soups, spices and curry mixes under the Ching’s Secret brand.

The seven-year investment will come to an end as part of the consolidation drive the group is undertaking. Capital Foods’ founder and managing director, Ajay Gupta, will continue to control the company through his 56% stake.

Artal’s investment comes after its recent buyout discussions with Japanese food major Nissin Foods fell through. Its purchase of Capital values the company at Rs450cr (US$73.3m), which is Rs50cr below the figure Biyani and Gupta had been hoping for before the deal. 

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