Italy: Belgium brewer Duvel Moortgat continues shopping tour

It was supposed to remain a secret but two weeks ago, the founders of Birrificio del Ducato, an 5,000 hl artisanal brewery from Roncole Verdi, a small Italian village near Parma halfway between Milan and Bologna, revealed the sale of a 35% stake in the brewery to Belgium family-owned brewer Duvel Moortgat.

The transaction was already closed in December last year, but became only known now after rumors arose in social media.

When asked about the reason for the secrecy, co-founder and brewmaster Giovanni Campari told Fermento Birra: “Simply, nothing has changed for us; we did not want to give importance to something, which is not important. We did not consider it necessary to disclose the sale of the share because everything remains unchanged both with regard to strategy and production. It's just a form of financing.”

On Wednesday, the company elaborated on their Facebook page about the deal:

“In 2007, we began producing handmade beer in a small village in Parma and we were able to distinguish ourselves by the quality and excellence of our beer in Italy and abroad.

Once at a certain point in our path, we realized that our sole forces were not enough anylonger. Throughout these years, we have always supported [the business] through own resources or through bank financing, while trying to convince banks of the intrinsic value of our project. Despite the positive numbers, steady growth and numerous achievements, the banking world has never understood or believed in our business.

To continue growth, sustain the investments and bring Birrificio del Ducato where we always wanted it to be, we needed large resources and we realized that the choice had to fall on a partner who would well understand the needs of our industry. Not a partner at all, but a producer, who would not compromise on beer quality and with a knowledge of the market.

We therefore partnered with Duvel Moortgat, highly respected in the world of artisan beers in the international field, with prestigious brands that distinguish the group, such as Firestone Walker and Ommegang.”

In the past, Birrificio del Ducato already relied on crowdfunding for financing two pubs in London opened in 2015 and May 2017.

Duvel Moortgat, founded in 1871 by Jan-Leonard Moortgat and managed by fourth generation descendant Michel Moortgat, is one of the fastest growing brewing groups in Europe. Besides its own business, the company owns 50% of Rodinný Pivovar Bernard in Humpolec/Czech Republic (acquired 2001), Brewery Ommegang from Cooperstown/New York (acquired in 2003), Brasserie d’Achouffe from Houffalize/Belgium (acquired 2006), Brouwerij Liefmans in Oudenaarde/Belgium (acquired 2008), Brouwerij De Koninck from Antwerp/Belgium (acquired 2010), Boulevard Brewing Company from Kansas City/Missouri (acquired 2013), Firestone Walker Brewing Company from Paso Robles/California (acquired 2015) and Brouwerij 't IJ from Amsterdam/Netherlands (acquired 2015).

In 1999 Duvel Moortgat listed on the stock exchange. In 2012, however, the Moortgat family decided to remove the company from the stock exchange and used a rolling credit facility spread across 3 banks to finance the group’s activities.

In 2016, the Duvel Moortgat group achieved record results with a turnover of €401.4 million (+27%). EBITDA grew 22% to 118.6 million euro and net profit reached 53.6 million euro. Since its delisting in 2012, the company’s turnover and profit more than doubled.

All breweries of the group reached a sales volume of 1.8 million hectoliters in 2016 with the United States contributing 0.7 million hl and Belgium 0.5 million hl. Duvel Moortgat just finished a $15 million brewhouse extension in its Firstone Walker Brewery, which increases yearly brewing capacity of the California brewery to 704,000 hl. (, 6.6.2017)

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