CALGARY -- Old-world coffee giant the Lavazza Group is buying control of Kicking Horse Coffee as the Canadian brand continues to expand its reach in the upscale coffee market.
The deal announced Wednesday values Invermere, B.C.'s most famous exporter at $215 million and gives the Italy's Lavazza an 80 per cent stake in the company.
Lavazza, which is acquiring the interest in the coffee roaster from private-equity fund Swander Pace Capital, called Kicking Horse one of the "local jewels" it was looking for as it aims to acquire global premium brands.
The company said Kicking Horse is a leader in the fast-growing fair trade, organic segment, with distinctive roast offerings with names like Hoodoo Jo, Cliff Hanger and Grizzly Claw.
Elana Rosenfeld and Leo Johnson started Kicking Horse in 1996 with a coffee roaster in their garage. The company's beans are now available in cafes, grocery stores and online across Canada and the U.S.
The company also opened a cafe in Invermere in 2008, while Swander Pace Capital and partners bought a controlling stake in the company in 2012.
Rosenfeld, who retains a 20 per cent stake in Kicking Horse, will stay on as chief executive after the takeover, while Lavazza CEO Antonio Baravalle will become chairman.
Lavazza said it's buying the private equity stake as Kicking Horse has seen consistent double-digit growth in recent years, with significant expansion potential to come.
In recent years, the Italian company has also bought Carte Noire in France, and Denmark's Merrild as part of its acquisition strategy.